The Conditions of Being Art: Two Renée Green Installations at Bard Hessel Museum of Art

Renée Green, Venue, 1994. Film still.
ACT at MIT

Need a cheap SoHo location? Call Venue 941-7055 for what you seek.  Booking DJs, VJs, bands, writers, parties, etc.”

Renée Green, Taste Venue, flyer, 1994

In June 2018, the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard) opened the exhibition The Conditions of Being Art: Pat Hearn Gallery & American Fine Arts, Co. (1983-2004) in the Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.

Examining the shared histories, art, and programming activities of New York’s Pat Hearn Gallery (PHG) and American Fine Arts, Co., Colin de Land Fine Art. (AFA), The Conditions of Being Art features two major installations by ACT Professor Renée Green.

The exhibitionforegrounds the changing operations of artistic labor during the last decades of the past century: in how artists produced art, and what support this required from a gallery and dealer. Focusing on work by artists who were formally represented by the galleries, artists who received prominent one- person exhibitions at these galleries, The Conditions of Being Art privileges those works of art or art practices that required conspicuous support, collaboration, and advocacy on the part of Hearn and de Land.”

Renée Green exhibited and closely worked with Pat Hearn for more than a decade, until the dealer’s premature death in 2000; a prominent figure of New York’s cultural scene during the 1980s and 1990s, after her initial engagement with painting Hearn was later known for her commitment to queer, feminist politics, and AIDS activism. Green’s list of solo exhibitions at Pat Hearn Gallery include VistaVision: Landscapes of Desire (1991), Taste Venue (1994), Partially Buried (1996), and Other Planes of There (2000). Green’s work was also featured in the seminal exhibition What Happened to the Institutional Critique?, curated by James Meyer for de Land’s American Fine Arts in 1994. Her work was also featured in a variety of group shows in both establishments.

In the Hessel Museum of Art exhibition, audiences can encounter Green’s Bequest, and Commemorative Toile, two major installations that were introduced to New York audiences by Hearn. In the case of Commemorative Toile, Green produced a suit with the toile that was worn by Hearn for the duration of her Taste Venue exhibition in 1994; in Taste Venue, the gallery space was available to New York cultural producers to host their events, concerts or other art exhibitions; these activites were documented in Green’s Venue video, also present at the Hessel Museum of Art.

The Conditions of Being Art features work by many artists who had a working relationship with both Hearn and de Land; a selected list of exhibited artists would include, Art Club 2000, Lutz Bacher, Tom Burr, Andrea Fraser, Peter Fend, Mary Heilmann, John Knight, Mark Morrisroe, Christian Philipp-Müller, Julia Scher, Lincoln Tobier, John Waters, and ACT’s Joan Jonas, among many others.

Co-curated by Lia Gangitano, Jeannine Tang, and Ann Butler, the exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated scholarly publication featuring an exhaustive history of both galleries, drawing materials from the gallery archives, which are held at CCS Bard. Contributors to the catalog include Kobena Mercer, Mason Leaver-Yap, Diedrich Diedrichsen, Johanna Burton, Lia Gangitano, and others.

In Prof. Mercer’s essay for the publication, Shapes of Time: Renée Green’s Crosscutting Flow, he provides an exhaustive reading of Green’s exhibitions and projects at Pat Hear Gallery; he writes: “That the body of work Renée Green created during her time at Pat Hearn Gallery has not ceased to generate fresh insight, a quarter century after it was made testifies to the resourcefulness of reconceptual topologies, which show us that the final hour of closure has yet to arrive. The unfinishedness of historical becoming is kept open by the iterative structures of “difference” on which all discourse ultimately depends.”

The Conditions of Being Art is on view until December 14th, 2018.

More Information:

The Conditions of Being Art, Hessel Museum of Art

New York Times Review