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We the People: New Art from the Collection

Tuesday, October 23, 2018Sunday, July 21, 2019

Installation view of We the People: New Art from the Collection. Photograph by Tom Loonan and Brenda Bieger.

1905 Building, South Galleries

Some of the most imaginative and dynamic artists working today are exploring what it means to be a citizen of the 21st century. Whether creating paintings or videos, sculptures or photographs, the artists in We the People: New Art from the Collection are interested in how we define identity, form communities, and confront the various forces that shape our lives. This exhibition takes its title from two featured works, both called We the People: Hank Willis Thomas’s quilt made from decommissioned prison uniforms cut up and pieced together to spell out these first words of the preamble to the United States Constitution, and Danh Võ’s full-size copper replica of the Statue of Liberty broken into several hundred pieces, one of which is included in the exhibition. 

Hank Willis Thomas (American, born 1976). We The People, 2015. Decommissioned prison uniforms mounted on Sintra, 74 x 90 inches (188 x 228.6 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Mrs. George A. Forman, by exchange, 2016 (2016:17). © Hank Willis Thomas. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Image courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Kevin Beasley (American, born 1985). Untitled (hollow), 2016. Resin, housedresses, and kaftans, 80 x 73 x 36 inches (203.2 x 185.4 x 91.4 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Albert H. Tracy Fund, by exchange, 2016 (2016:30). © 2016 Kevin Beasley. 

Tabor Robak (American, born 1986). Free-to-Play lite, 2014. Four-channel HD video with custom software, AP 1 from an edition of 3 and 2 APs; 120 x 50 3/8 inches (304.8 x 128 cm), running time: 60 minutes. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Sherman S. Jewett Fund, by exchange and George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund, by exchange, 2015 (2015:7.2a-d). © 2014 Tabor Robak

Jacqueline Humphries (American, born 1960). One Cat, 2017. Oil on linen, 100 3/16 x 111 1/8 inches (254.5 x 282.3 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Pending Acquisition Funds, 2018 (2018:3). © Jacqueline Humphries, Courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali, New York

Park McArthur (American, born 1984). Softly, effectively, 2017. Aluminum, 71 5/8 x 114 x 1 1/2 inches (181.9 x 289.6 x 3.8 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Pending Acquisition Funds, 2018 (2018:4a-c). © 2017 Park McArthur. Image courtesy Essex Street Gallery.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (American, born 1940). Homeland, 2017. Mixed media on canvas, 48 x 72 inches (121.9 x 182.9 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Bequest of John Mortimer Schiff, by exchange, 2018 (2018:12). © 2018 Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

Taken as an ensemble, the works in We the People encourage us to think about our place in a constantly evolving world. Who are we? What are our values and how are they formed? How do we imagine our future? These questions arise from a complex and often contradictory set of experiences and circumstances, ranging from our engagement with popular culture to our political debates, physical environment, and historical narratives.

From its founding in 1862, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery has been dedicated to collecting art that reflects the concerns of each era. Over the past five years, the museum has continued this mission by acquiring hundreds of works by living artists from around the world, including Park McArthur, Sopheap Pich, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. We the People includes more than two dozen of these new additions to the collection, most of which have never before been on view at the Albright-Knox. They represent a vision of the museum as a resource for the community, offering unique opportunities for the exchange of ideas. It is our hope that the works in We the People also inspire conversations about contemporary art and its evolving relevance to all of our lives. Ultimately, art exists and becomes art only through the act of human engagement. 

This exhibition is organized by Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director Janne Sirén and Assistant Curator Tina Rivers Ryan.

Admission to this special exhibition is Pay What You Wish on M&T FIRST FRIDAYS @ THE GALLERY.

Please note that the portions of this exhibition in South Transept and Sculpture Court, including Subodh Gupta's This is not a fountainare no longer on view.

Exhibition Sponsors

Equipment and technical support provided by Advantage TI.

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

Additional support has been provided by a gift in honor of Robert Lang Miller Sr.

Publication of the family guide has been made possible through the generosity of Keller Technology Corporation.