Performance, Video, Music, and Audio Features by Contemporary New York Artists Included in Metropolitan Museum’s “Pictures Generation” Exhibition this Spring

The Pictures Generation, 1974–1984, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from April 21 through August 2, 2009, will include performances, videos, and music by several contemporary New York artists, as well as related film screenings and audio features.
Jack Goldstein


This is the first major museum exhibition to focus exclusively on the highly influential group of artists known as the “Pictures Generation.” Working most often in photography, but also in painting, sculpture, performance, film, video, and audio, this tightly knit group of artists explored how images shape our perceptions of ourselves and the world. Featured are 160 works by 30 artists, including Jack Goldstein, Robert Longo, Troy Brauntuch, Sherrie Levine, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, David Salle, Matt Mullican, Louise Lawler, and Dara Birnbaum, among others. As part of the exhibition, three large-scale drawings by Robert Longo will also be presented in the Great Hall.

The exhibition is made possible by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation. Additional support is provided by The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Inc.

Sound, Film, and Video in the Exhibition
The Pictures Generation features a significant component of film and video, including performances in nightclubs by Eric Bogosian, footage of Paul McMahon’s infamous Song Paintings performance in which he lampooned artists and dealers of early 1980s, and humorous short films by MICA-TV (1981-1982) of Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, and Laurie Simmons. The exhibition will also include sound recordings by Jack Goldstein and Glenn Branca and Theoretical Girls.

Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Trio with Robert Longo’s Pictures for Music Slide Presentation
Celebrated downtown composer Rhys Chatham will lead his group in a performance of his seminal 1977 composition Guitar Trio, accompanied by Robert Longo’s slide presentation Pictures for Music, on April 24 at 6 p.m. Longo was one of the original guitarists in Chatham’s group, and will perform with the ensemble. In addition to Chatham and Longo on electric guitar, the other performers are Sarah Lipstate, Robert
Poss, Ned Sublette, and Adam Wills, electric guitar; Ernie Brooks, electric bass; and Jonathan Kane, drums. John Gernand is the sound engineer.

“The ‘Pictures’ artists were deeply involved with music, from Robert Longo and Richard Prince’s band Menthol Wars to the seminal series of No Wave concerts organized by Michael Zwack at Artists Space in 1978,” noted Douglas Eklund, Associate Curator in the Department of Photographs, who organized the exhibition.
“Together with the haunting slide presentation by Robert Longo that has accompanied performances of the piece since 1979, Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Trio is the cornerstone of this overlap between art and music in the late 1970s.”

Performances by Michael Smith and Paul McMahon
Comedy and humor were vital to the group of artists featured in The Pictures Generation, and a Sunday at the Met event on May 10 at 2 p.m. will bring together two of the great artist-performers of the period, Michael Smith and Paul McMahon.
Smith, together with docent Carol Smith Mitchell and communication assistant Cameron Larson, reprises an early piece from the 1970s entitled “Minimal Message Movement” and stages a birthday party for Baby Ikki, the perpetually 18-month-old character (played by Smith) who is an archetype with an unclear mission. McMahon performs a selection of his acerbic songs lampooning the 1980s art world and also appears as the “Rock-n-Roll Psychiatrist,” providing on-the-spot musical responses to personal problems posed by the audience.

Podcast: Doug Eklund and Dan Graham discuss the work of Jack Goldstein
For the Museum’s podcast series, exhibition curator Doug Eklund and artist and writer Dan Graham discuss the work of Jack Goldstein, one of the most important innovators among the “Pictures” artists. Goldstein’s A Suite of Nine 7-Inch Records with Sound Effects (1976) is the focus of the discussion and excerpts of this work will be included in the podcast. Visitors will also be able to listen to Goldstein’s work in the exhibition,
on headphones.

Audio Guide with the Artists
In their own words and with their own audio pieces and music, this audio guide will bring the sounds of The Pictures Generation into the exhibition space. The tour includes archival sound recordings and excerpts from original interviews with the following artists: Barbara Bloom, James Casebere, Sarah Charlesworth, Nancy Dwyer, Thomas Lawson, Robert Longo, David Salle, James Welling and Michael Zwack.

The audio tour will be available for rental ($7, $6 for Members, $5 for children under 12).

The Audio Guide program is sponsored by Bloomberg.

Film Screenings
In June the Museum will present Artists Select Films, three evenings of film curated by artists featured in the exhibition, for whom movies have played a key role in the development of their work. Robert Longo introduces Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970) on June 5. On June 12, Barbara Bloom shows Jacques Tati’s Playtime as well as her own The Diamond Lane (1981), a work in the form of a trailer for a nonexistent film. David Salle introduces a new print of Godard’s Vivre sa vie (My Life to Live) (1962) and discusses the influence of Godard on his art on June 19. All programs are at 6 p.m. and all films are shown in 35mm.

The Museum will also offer several screenings of the documentary film Nobody’s Here but Me: Cindy Sherman (1994, Mark Stokes, director), which shows artist Cindy Sherman at work in her studio and explores the sources and themes of her photographs.

Robert Longo Drawings in the Great Hall
In the Great Hall the Museum will feature a triptych of large-scale drawings by Robert Longo from his iconic series “Men in the Cities.” Each of these three works is eight feet in height and features a man or woman in isolation, seemingly frozen in a moment of dramatic, jittery movement. The artist photographed his fellow artists and musicians in fevered poses and then projected the images onto the paper in order to create these
monumental drawings in charcoal and graphite.

Metropolitan Museum of Art