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The Swindle: Art Between Seeing and Believing

Saturday, May 26, 2018Sunday, October 28, 2018

Installation view of The Swindle: Art Between Seeing and Believing. Photograph by Tom Loonan and Brenda Bieger.

Clifton Hall Link

The abstract artist Josef Albers celebrated art as a “swindle,” delighting in its ability to teach us about the chasm between physical facts and our visual perception of them, and to undermine our trust in the information our eyes convey. Although he was primarily focused on demonstrating the relativity of color, Albers also studied how composition and linear design could render his works both illusionistic and enigmatic. Like Albers, many other twentieth- and twenty-first-century artists worked to depose vision from its historically enshrined role as the “noblest” sense. Some made art in the form of conceptual statements or instructions, circumventing visual sensation entirely. Others asked audiences to privilege different senses in artworks that relied on sound or touch. Given the increased volume and circulation of images made possible by today’s technological advances, it is more urgent than ever to examine how images convey the information that becomes the basis of our shared perception.

Josef Albers (American, born Germany, 1888–1976). SK-ED, 1972. Four color lithograph, edition 21/100; 13 3/4 x 13 3/4 inches (34.9 x 34.9 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Frederic P. Norton, 1999 (P1999:6.2). © The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Tauba Auerbach (American, born 1981). Untitled (Fold), 2012. Acrylic paint on canvas on wooden stretcher, 64 x 48 inches (162.6 x 121.9 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; By exchange: Charlotte A. Watson Fund and Gift of Miss Amelia E. White, 2012 (2012:19). © Tauba Auerbach. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Erica Baum (American, born 1961). Slept, 2008. Color inkjet print, edition 5/6; 14 x 17 1/2 inches (35.6 x 44.5 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; By exchange: Sherman S. Jewett Fund, Bequest of John Mortimer Schiff and Gift of Baroness Alphonse de Rothschild, 2015 (P2015:2.3). © 2008 Erica Baum

Gianfranco Foschino (Chilean, born 1983). La Fenêtre, 2008. HDV video, edition 1/5; running time: 14 minutes. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Mrs. Georgia M. G. Forman, by exchange, 2010 (2010:33a-b). © 2008 Gianfranco Foschino

Kim Tschang-Yeul (Korean, born 1929). Waterdrops No. 26, 1977. Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 28 5/8 inches (92.1 x 72.7 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1978 (K1978:2). © Kim Tschang-Yeul / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Amanda Means (American, born 1945). Light Bulb 00050C, 2001. Diffusion transfer print, edition 4/5; 20 x 24 inches (50.8 x 61 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Sarah Norton Goodyear Fund, 2003 (P2003:4.2). © 2001 Amanda Means 

The artists included in this exhibition, including Josef Albers, Tauba Auerbach, Robert Barry, Amanda Means, and Kim Tschang-Yeul, have used many different strategies to draw attention to the act of perception and to encourage us to question the truth of our vision. From illusionistic, or trompe l’oeil (trick of the eye), paintings to more ephemeral and conceptual gestures, these artworks challenge what we see and prompt us to appreciate and even enjoy experiences of dissonance. These moments—when we must rely on our minds to test the logic of what we see—teach us to question our confidence in first impressions. This exhibition, drawn from the Albright-Knox’s collection, reminds us that although our experience and knowledge of the world often comes to us through our eyes, seeing should not always be believing. 

This exhibition is organized by Curatorial Fellow Andrea Alvarez.

Admission to this special exhibition is FREE on M&T FIRST FRIDAYS @ THE GALLERY.

Exhibition Sponsors

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s exhibition program is generously supported by The Seymour H. Knox Foundation, Inc.