Exhibition Review: “K-Mart Conceptualism” by Vernon Fischer at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

On view: September 25, 2010 – January 2, 2011

When I first went to the exhibit, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to encounter. I went into the the experience blind, specifically with the intention of seeing what I could pull from Fischer’s art on display from my own personal experiences and knowledge of art criticism and theory. As I made my way through the exhibit, I kept finding myself having to stop and stare at his work. I loved it. It was evident throughout his body of work that he was obviously contemplating and incorporating various stylistic and theoretical practices into his work; ultimately, creating an art that appeared, to me, a wonderful kaleidoscope of what I have learned so far in my art historical studies. I was surprised to learn after my experience at the Modern that the curator of the exhibit, Michael Auping, even noted that Fischer’s: “body of work… represents an especially interesting moment in contemporary art history in the late 1970s and early 1980s—a time when the legacies of Pop art and Conceptual art created a unique hybrid between painting and installation, inspiring narratives derived from juxtapositions of language and vernacular imagery.”

Individually, each piece included in the exhibit is really strong, reflecting some aspect of the artists own experiences and perceptions of, as Fischer said “working-class backdrops and situations.” However, all of the works, together, in this exhibit provide an intriguing and insightful look into how American culture, from the last half of the twentieth-century, has been perceived from an ‘insiders’ perspective. After leaving the gallery, I caught myself going back and contemplating the collage-type large paintings that made reference to the domineering American military power, through images of atomic bomb explosions and maps of countries America has had a colonial relationship with in the past. These images struck me because these jarring images were either done in colors of bright red, blue, and pink, almost invoking a comical quality to the whole image he is depicting.


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