Analysts often suggest viewing art through a time-sensitive lens; after all, virtuosos garner inspiration from their contemporary surroundings. When crafts of varying media and decade are placed into conversation with one another, however, a recognition of art’s universality throughout the human experience eclipses chronology.
The aptly titled “Across Time,” curated by senior Lauren Slezak and on display in the Lederer Gallery, elicits the same sweeping consciousness in the observer. While studying art in a historical context has always “clicked” for her, Slezak arranged the works without any chronological constraints.
The exhibit negates era and artist-specific demarcation by placing the most value in composition, color, and elemental style. Artworks are presented in pairs, drawing on all of these aspects.
“I could have just picked out ones that I liked but I really wanted themes to pull them all together,” Slezak said.
In this way, Slezak said she decided that her curation would have a formalist bent, exploring artwork only in terms of its visual features.
When browsing the pieces, viewers can find works dating between the mid-twentieth century and 2011, spanning in techniques that include oil on canvas, intaglio, charcoal sketching, and silkscreen printing.
“Ships at Anchor-Night,” a stunningly dark oil work by French artist James Coignard especially asserts its individuality, playing with texture and color to create a dreary mood.
“It took a little while,” about ten hours, Slezak said, “to find works that went together.” Yet, ten hours seem like a small amount of time considering the thoughtfulness behind formation of the couplings.
One pair, consisting of Thomas Henry Kenny’s “Space Vehicle #1” and Amy Williamson’s “Graces,” presents two seemingly antithetical works. The titles even sound opposed, and the discrete techniques between them appear to aid in this dichotomy.
Even so, Slezak’s insight brings the onlooker back to the universal perspective. The arrangement highlights the works’ similar components: a yellow wash, alike compositions, and even corresponding shapes. Kenny’s lithograph depicts a vehicle with arms and sharp, clean-cut angles. Williamson’s sketch shows a person, whose arms and spinal groove mimic parts of Kenny’s machine. Together, the drastically different styles and themes coalesce, as if the essence of humanity can be found throughout not only nature, but in machines.
As a pop-up exhibit, “Across Time” will be on display until April 7 in the Lederer Gallery.