The lush surfaces of Tony Greene’s work, in which elaborate paintings are embalmed on tinted photographs, address desire and mortality, with a nod to the dark ornamentation of the Victorian age. The photographs on view in the Biennial depict two subjects: taxidermied wildlife, exhibited in natural history dioramas, and idealized male bodies depicted in physique magazines. Obscured by painted foliage and calligraphic swirls, these images can be seen alternatively as objects of sexual yearning or as memorials for those lost to AIDS.
Before Greene’s untimely death from complications of AIDS, he was admired for creating work that addressed queer sexuality through painting at a moment when the medium had largely been forsaken for more conceptual and activist practices by his peers. Greene’s work, rarely seen during the past twenty years, was contrary to and provocatively out of step with the art of its time. Its presentation in the 2014 Biennial suggests how one might incorporate voices from a generation devastated by loss to complicate a continuing narrative about the art of the present moment.
To acknowledge Greene’s legacy, artists Richard Hawkins (b. 1961) and Catherine Opie (b. 1961), both of whom attended CalArts with Greene in the late 1980s, have organized this installation for the Biennial.
Work by Tony Greene, curated by Richard Hawkins and Catherine Opie, is on view in the Museum’s third floor galleries.
Academy Records and Matt Hanner
Ei Arakawa and Carissa Rodriguez
Robert Ashley and Alex Waterman
Lisa Anne Auerbach
Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna
Paravel, and Sensory Ethnography Lab
Critical Practices Inc.
Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst
Radamés “Juni” Figueroa
Gaylen Gerber with David Hammons,
Sherrie Levine, and Trevor Shimizu
Tony Greene curated by Richard
Hawkins and Catherine Opie
Yve Laris Cohen
My Barbarian (Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon
and Alexandro Segade)
Sara Greenberger Rafferty
Steve Reinke with Jessie Mott
Valerie Snobeck and Catherine Sullivan
Charline von Heyl
David Foster Wallace