Exhibiting Signs of Age Shows Contemporary Wrinkle in Art

By Kleyman, Paul | Aging Today, November/December 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Exhibiting Signs of Age Shows Contemporary Wrinkle in Art


Kleyman, Paul, Aging Today


The 24-hour clock is meticulously and firmly drawn in red ballpoint ink on a sheet of music notation paper, the hands showing 2:10. Penciled in at the bottom of the page in the sure hand of 91-year-old conceptual artist and sculptor Louise Bourgeois are these words:

To forgive in order to forget

I do not want to relive the past.

I want to experience the present

Restoration.

Reparation.

Reconciliation.

The untitled piece from 2002 is among the first one meets in Exhibiting Signs of Age, a compact, new and smartly curated exhibition of work by 11 artists at the Berkeley Art Museum on the University of California (U.C. Berkeley) campus through Jan. 18, 2004. The images, which will travel to the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, for exhibition from Feb. 12-March 28, 2004, also can be viewed online. The works include a wide range of approaches to modern art from pastel and charcoal drawings by the late George Segal that present richly textured portraits of age, to a series of images and text by documentary photographer-and-writer team Ed Kashi and Julie Winokur, authors of Aging in America: The Years Ahead (New York City: Power-House Books, 2003. See Aging Today, September-October 2003, for Winokur's article on this seven-year project.).

The exhibit's cocurators note that the artists represented in the show "reach varied insights into how aging is perceived and experienced." The curators are Elizabeth Dungan, a postdoctoral fellow at U.C. Berkeley's Center for Medicine, the Humanities and Law, and Sharon Corwin, Lunder Curator of American Art at the Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine. In their joint statement, they observe, "Often emphasizing ambiguity and indecipherability, they [the artists] invite us to explore the uncertainties inherent in the aging process."

Nine of the artists use photography in a variety of approaches, from documentary to conceptual. A now-classic image in American photography that is included in the exhibit is the 1958 self-portrait of photographer Imogen Cunningham. Her liminal figure, crowned with white hair and cloaked in black, stares back at the viewer-and herself-from a slim mirrored plane in a store window. Cunningham, suggest Dungan and Corwin, creates "a striking metaphor for the seeming invisibility or misrecognition that older people can often experience." The San Francisco photographer, born in 1883, was also an adherent to the truthfulness of the open aperture, and allowed her social invisibility to work for her as she unimposingly focused her exacting lens on many subjects. In Cunningham's final work, After 90, published a year after her death in 1976 and represented in Exhibiting Signs of Age, she satisfied her fascination with the oldest age by sharpening her lens not on loneliness and decrepitude but on the completeness, the fulfillment of longevity.

The self-portrait of Chuck Close uses the 19th century technique of the daguerreotype. The closely cropped headshot is starkly detailed at the forefront, especially in the piercing eyes that could stare at the viewer from across the room-or from a battlefield of the Civil War. But the image also loses focus behind the features in a timeless blur. Close said of this photograph, "It's all about my turning 60."

Then there is the unsettling beauty of the photo-portrait series by John Coplans, who died earlier this year.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Exhibiting Signs of Age Shows Contemporary Wrinkle in Art
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?