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Obama Paintings

Installation detail from The Obama Paintings. Courtesy of the artist, Gavin Brown enterprise, and MOCAD.

Rob Pruitt: The Obama Paintings and The Lincoln Monument
On View: May 15 - August 2, 2015

Rob Pruitt’s The Obama Paintings and The Lincoln Monument will be presented to the public for the first time beginning May 15, 2015. Both works serve as monuments in themselves, as well as examinations of presidential monuments in general. The exhibition will spotlight how images of past presidents are disseminated and function in our society.

Rob Pruitt began The Obama Paintings as a means of tracking President Barack Obama’s presidency. Since Obama’s inauguration on January 20, 2009, Pruitt has created a 2’x2’ painting of the President every single day, with particular imagery drawn from the news of that day. Upon completion, The Obama Paintings will comprise 2,922 paintings, incorporating such seminal events as his first State of the Union address to seemingly mundane activities. Each canvas is given equal importance, regardless of the traditional metrics of newsworthiness of the moment it depicts.

The process for creating each work in The Obama Paintings is the same: a canvas is covered in a spectrum of red to blue; once an image is selected, often for its aesthetic qualities and composition, Pruitt paints it in white expressionist brushstrokes onto the background. This is further emphasized by the installation of the unframed works in a non-chronological, seamless grid. A work-in-progress, The Obama Paintings takes on new meanings as each canvas is added to the larger work.

The Lincoln Monument uses the most ubiquitous form of presidential iconography - the copper penny - as raw material. The work is made up of 200,000 pennies filling three stacked copper painted truck tires. Odes to public fountains, Pruitt's ongoing 'People Feeder' sculptures are often filled with coins, candy or other offerings, the first iterations having been shown at his 2010 exhibition, Pattern and Degradation at Gavin Brown's Enterprise.

The Obama Paintings and The Lincoln Monument will be presented to the public for the first time in an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), beginning May 15, 2015. The presentation will include a site-specific installation of the work filling MOCAD’s galleries. Curated by Elysia Borowy-Reeder, executive director at MOCAD, the exhibition will offer audiences the opportunity to experience the work- and presidency-in-progress. Related public programs will be offered, including a talk from the artist. A solo exhibition of Pruitt will open the same week at The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, in Connecticut.

Exhibition programming support for ROB PRUITT: The Obama Paintings and The Lincoln Monument is generously provided by the Taubman Foundation and Gavin Brown's enterprise.

MOCAD Operations are supported by Masco Corporation, Erb Family Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding for programming and educational initiatives is provided by the Edith S. Briskin/Shirley K. Schlafer Foundation.

Press Release

Press for The Obama Paintings

"Hail to the Chief"
Maxwell Willaims Cascone
Cultured Magazine, April/May Issue, 2015

"Rob Pruitt's Massive Obama Installation to Debut at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit"
Sarah Cascone
ArtNet News, March 13, 2015

"Presidential and Durational: Rob Pruitt on his 2,000-plus Obama Paintings"
John Chiaverina
ArtNews, March 12, 2015

"Hail to the Chief: MOCAD to show 2,300 Obama portraits"
Mark Stryker
Detroit Free Press, Friday, March 6, 2015

"2,300 Images of Obama"
Hilarie M. Sheets
The New York Times, Thursday, March 5, 2015

Greg Fadell

Dots by Greg Fadell

Greg Fadell, Untitled, 2014, 40.5x27.5 inches, Courtesy of the artist and MOCAD

Detroit based artist Greg Fadell will inaugurate the second set of the Detroit Affinities series of solo exhibitions, part of MOCAD's DETROIT CITY program. Ken Okiishi will be the other artist in this new pairing. These exhibitions mark the first solo museum exhibition for each artist.

The exhibition will focus on the artist's fascination with art history and its use and role in shaping aesthetic opinions. Fadell’s paintings, sculptures, and video conceptually question how to engage with and measure aesthetic and cultural value and explore what it means to be an artist in the 21st century. Art history is used as an inspiration and a starting point of discovery, and traditional painting techniques are replaced by inkjet prints and chemical solvents. Using appropriation and deconstruction, Fadell seeks to uncover the perceptual bias of aesthetic precedents, object value, provenance, and institutional prestige. Through this critical examination of how art history is mediated and represented via art publications, ordinary museum posters, or a seemingly mundane television show, Fadell adapts factual information and subverts it to create a historical context of his own invention.

Detroit Affinities is curated by Jens Hoffmann, MOCAD’s Senior Curator at Large.

As part of:

FALL 2015

Dots by Greg Fadell

Felipe Arturo, Primero Estaba eL Mar,2012

Highlights from the El Sur Collection
On View: September 18, 2015 - January 3, 2016

United States of Latin America brings together over 30 emerging artists from Latin America providing a glimpse into the art world between Mexico and Argentina. The artists and their works were chosen based on a dialog between two curators of Latin American origin, Pablo León de la Barra (born 1972 Mexico City, Mexico) and Jens Hoffmann (born 1974 San Jose, Costa Rica), who have over the last fifteen years researched and worked intensely with artists and art institutions from the region.

Each artist and each artwork has been selected following a dialog between both curators. It began with one artwork proposed by Hoffmann and another work selected as a response by de la Barra, the dialogue from there unfolding both as an actual written conversation in the catalogue of the exhibition as well as a dialog through the works of art that are in conversation with one another. The result is highly subjective yet a informed and critical discussion about the state of contemporary art in Latin America today. The conversation describes a development that till recently revolved around subjects such as cultural identity or class to more nuanced considerations of political issues that go hand in hand with investigations of material or media and formal considerations. Together with the artist the curators have put together a glossary of Latin American concepts and ideas that define the region, and which will also be presented in the walls of the exhibition space. The glossary is alphabetical and starts with the letter L for Latin America.

Participating Artists: 
Jonathas de Andrade, Edgardo Aragón, Juan Araujo, Felipe Arturo, Milena Bonilla, Paloma Bosque, Pia Camil, Juan Capistran, Benvenuto Chavajay, Marcelo Cidade, Donna Conlon & Jonathan Harker, Nicolas Consuegra, Minerva Cuevas, Mariana Castillo Deball, Ximena Garrido-Lecca, Voluspa Jarpa, Adriana Lara, Engel Leonardo, Mateo López, Renata Lucas, Nicolas Paris, Amalia Pica, Clarissa Tossin, Adrian Villar Rojas, Carla Zaccagnini

A range of public programs and education activities will take place along side the exhibition including a roundtable conversation with a group of younger curators from Latin America, lectures by some of the participating artists, tours of Detroit’s Latino neighborhoods as well as a number of screenings and a music performance on the opening night.

Most works in the exhibition are drawn from the collection of the Kadist Art Foundation based in Paris and San Francisco. The Kadist Art Foundation is a non-for-profit organization that conducts a series of programs such as talks, conferences, publications, residencies and curatorial exchanges worldwide based on the artists in their collection.  

United States of Latin America marks the beginning of Dialogues a new series of exhibitions in which MOCAD will examine some of the most active art scene in the world today. Future possible regions might include South East Asia, Southern Africa and Eastern Europe.

Curated by: Senior Curator at Large Jens Hoffmann and Guest Curator Pablo León de la Barra

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization supported through invaluable contributions from individuals and members. The Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation provides leading support for the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit since 2006. General operating support for MOCAD is generously provided by Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, General Motors Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Masco Corporation Foundation and The Taubman Foundation. Additional funding for programming and educational initiatives is provided by Edith S. Briskin/Shirley K. Schlafer Foundation. Valuable in-kind support is provided by Dykema. Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is also supported, in part, by The Andy Warhol Foundation For the Arts, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Leveraging Investments in Creativity in partnership with the Ford Foundation, and ArtPlace, a collaboration of top national foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts and various federal agencies to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S.