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Elements of Adam Pendleton’s Creative Lexicon

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The cover of Adam Pendleton’s Artist Book for the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum (images courtesy the artist and the Isabella Gardner Steward Museum)

Artist Adam Pendleton’s book for his current Systems of Display exhibition at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which is curated by Pieranna Cavalchini, is a window into his creative lexicon. Using the stark images that he’s famous for, the book caught our eye, and Pendleton was kind enough to share a few pages with Hyperallergic readers, along with this short introduction:

Elements of Me is an artist’s book accompanying Adam Pendleton’s solo exhibition at the Isabella  Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The exhibition, a room-sized installation, assembles silkscreen works on Mylar, works from System of Display (a series of silk-screened plexiglass-and-mirror display boxes), and geometric, hard-edged, black-and-white wall paintings.

The book and exhibition exist in conversation with the museum itself. The Gardner Museum, largely the vision of its founder, a late 19th-century American collector, is filled with thousands of artworks and decorative objects, arranged by Gardner into dense constellations whose logic is not always clear. Pendleton’s installation, in deep black and bright white, is inspired by the museum’s various modes and mechanisms of display and is both oppositional and complimentary.

On the book page, the three basic shapes composing the wall paintings in the installation appear as blank, unprinted regions over the source materials for Pendleton’s artworks. Concealed or masked in this way, the drawings, paintings, and photocopies refuse straightforward legibility, asking questions about the history of visual display and the status of foreground and background.

The exhibition has been extended and will close on November 15, 2020. The museum has instituted social distancing guidelines and timed tickets for visitors, which you can read about on its website. The limited-edition artist book is available through the museum’s website.

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