The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS Bard) presents a major exhibition of the artist, Anne Collier, tracing her career from 2002 to the present. The self-titled exhibition presents several themes dominant in Collier’s practice during the past decade, including autobiography, pop psychology, the clichés and conventions of commercial photography, and the act of looking or seeing.
The exhibition at CCS Bard includes more than forty works, and establishes Collier’s interest in photographing images that are propagated in popular culture – record-album sleeves, magazines, coffee-table books, Hollywood film stills, and pictorial calendars – set against neutral studio backdrops. Collier’s cool and detached photographic style, manifested in large-scale color prints, eliminates any unnecessary artifice between viewers and the material she finds so fascinating.
Working in the wake of feminism, representations of women and the gaze are paramount in her practice. Collier shows how a leering sexism has long guided the advertising of photographic products as well as the culture of photography magazines. In her long-standing photographic series Woman With A Camera, Collier highlights a certain type of film heroine, who is suddenly empowered when a camera is placed in her hands. Marilyn Monroe, Faye Dunaway, Jacqueline Bisset, Cheryl Tiegs—all heavily photographed subjects—turn the camera back on the viewer in a feminist reversal of “the male gaze.”
Collier’s work can be understood as following a conceptual artistic tradition inherited from Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and Douglas Huebler, as they too worked with content-laden artifacts of our media age rather than creating new objects. Her work is also influenced by artists such as Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Louise Lawler, and Laurie Simmons, who are part of the Pictures Generation and known largely for their work in appropriation of images from a media-saturated culture. Born and raised in California, Collier’s work also reflects her exposure to California culture and lifestyle.
Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated catalogue, published by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA), with essays by Michael Darling and Chrissie Iles, the Whitney Museum of American Art Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator, and a creative essay by the novelist Kate Zambreno, noted for her writings about women and myths of modernism. As the exhibition and book attest, the broad range of Collier’s work provides a poignant commentary on the considerable influence that photography wields in society at large. Collier negotiates the personal and the universal in a fluid and sophisticated way, with an unusual depth but also a generous accessibility. For these reasons, as well as the sustained intelligence and energy of her work, she has emerged as a major voice within the field of contemporary photography.
Anne Collier (born 1970) lives and works in New York City. She received a MFA from the University of California Los Angeles, and a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts. An internationally exhibited artist, Collier’s works are held in collections around the world. Recent solo exhibitions the Modern Institute, Glasgow, Scotland; and Marc Foxx, Los Angeles, CA. She has held teaching positions at the Yale University School of Art and Parsons School of Design in New York, among others.
Anne Collier is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and curated by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator. This exhibition will travel to MCA Chicago on November 22, 2014 – March 8, 2015, Aspen Art Museum on April 2 – July 15, 2015, then open at The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto in Fall of 2015.