Assistant Professor Karen Kurczynski curated the exhibition Human Animals: The Art of Cobra
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
The exhibition Human Animals: The Art of Cobra, curated by Karen Kurczynski and organized by NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, received positive accolades while on view at the University Museum of Contemporary Art from Sept. 14–Nov. 20, 2016. The show travels to NSU Art Museum in 2017. The first museum exhibition of Cobra in several decades in the United States, the exhibition features highlights from the Golda and Meyer Marks collection of over 2,000 Cobra art works in the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. It examines Cobra's art, poetry, engagement with literature and history, and international avant-garde legacy. In keeping with the exhibition's assertion that Cobra has particular resonance with contemporary art practice, the exhibition design reflects the innovations of the original Cobra installations, with a reworking of the "Poet's Cage" structure featured in the landmark 1949 Cobra exhibition in Amsterdam. The show was a groundbreaking collaboration between an Art History faculty member and the UMCA, a historical show grounded in scholarly research and presenting extensive contextual information to familiarize audiences with some of the less well known European and American artists.
The UMCA installation also featured the concurrent exhibition, "Cobra: Contemporary Legacy," including five artists who are historically linked to and/or inspired by Cobra: Herbert Gentry, Jacqueline de Jong, Axel Heil, Tal R, and Nicole Eisenman. African-American expatriate artist Herbert Gentry owned a jazz club and became a self-described Cobra painter in Europe from the 1950s until his death in Sweden in 2003. His work has been shown internationally, but almost exclusively in group exhibitions of African-American art in the US. The UMASS installation set his work alongside the art of the European Cobra artists, as a revisionist move that both takes into account the work of historically marginalized artists and produces broader interpretations of the Cobra movement.
On Sept. 16, 2016, Professor Kurczynski also organized a one-day symposium on Cobra and its legacy at UMASS, featuring local and international artists, curators, and scholars, as well as Dutch artist Jacqueline de Jong, featured in the "Contemporary Legacy" part of the exhibition. The exhibition and symposium stirred renewed interest in the UMCA throughout the community and sparked dialogues across several departments and among the Five Colleges, receiving positive reviews in the local press.