Falling Leaves: An Anonymous Memorial
521 W 21st Street
NEW YORK—The Paula Cooper Gallery is delighted to announce an exhibition of drawings and a film by the late artist Bruce Conner. “Falling Leaves: An Anonymous Memorial” comprises a series of drawings, all dating from 2001, that the artist created in response to 9/11. The drawings are credited to “Anonymous,” one of several alter-egos who worked with Bruce Conner over the years. Asked about this series of works in 2005, the artist responded: Anonymous was listening to the radio on 9/11 when two airplanes collided with the World Trade Center. Anonymous created a scroll inkblot drawing with two leaves falling. There was another work later that day with three leaves. Then four leaves. More scrolls with more leaves were created in the weeks of crisis that followed. Falling leaves and leaving.1 The exhibition will also include HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW, a 2006 collage film composed in part of Depression-era footage that Conner originally intended for a documentary about the influential gospel group The Soul Stirrers.Bruce Conner (1933-2008) is internationally recognized for his Surrealistic sculptures, groundbreaking short films and elaborate, richly detailed paintings and drawings.
A central figure of the San Francisco Beat scene and of the wider counter-cultural movement, he maintained a lifelong oppositional bent and remained wary of fame and commercial success. Conner first gained critical acclaim in the late 1950s with his assemblage art, producing eclectic constructions of nylon stockings, furniture elements and other found objects.In parallel, Conner also began an influential career as an experimental filmmaker that can be considered an extension of his assemblage practice. These masterfully edited collages of found and new footage, employing disorienting formal strategies such as non-linear narrative and optical overload that seem to point towards ecstatic, metaphysical truths, are avant-garde classics. Conner’s lyrical idiom is also evident in his drawings and paintings, whose enigmatic and personal symbolism explores notions of transience and immateriality, and of a reality beyond the visible.
Conner’s work has been included in many major group exhibitions throughout his career, notably the 1961 pioneering show “The Art of Assemblage” at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 2000, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis organized a wide-ranging exhibition of Conner’s work titled “2000 BC: The Bruce Conner Story, Part II,” which traveled to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. His work is in the collections of many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art ; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.Concurrently with this exhibition, the American University Museum in Washington, D.C. will present “Bruce Conner: An Anonymous Memorial,” from September 3 through October 23, 2011.
Jack Rasmussen, “INTERVIEW: Bruce Conner / Jack Rasmussen (Part One)”, After Bruce Conner: Anonymous, Anonymouse, And Emily Feather, American University Museum, Washington, DC, 2005, 6. ↩