Visual Arts Program
 

Friday, November 20, 1981 — Wednesday, January 6, 1982

Co-sponsored/co-presented by:
National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council for the Arts

FIGURES, FORMS, AND EXPRESSIONS

Presented at:
Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Hallwalls; CEPA Gallery

Concurrent exhibition of work on view at the Albright Knox Art Gallery and Hallwalls/CEPA featuring: John Ahearn; John Brumfield; Ellen Carey; Sandro Chia; Francesco Clemente; Leon Golub; Robert Longo; Robert Mapplethorpe; Rodney Ripps; David Salle; Salomé; Richard Seehausen; Joel Shapiro; Laurie Simmons; Russ Warren. Members preview at the Albright Knox Art Gallery and opening at Hallwalls held concurrently on November 20, 1981. This exhibition marks the last of the FOUR BY THREE series of exhibitions and residencies co-presented and organized by Hallwalls (William Currie and G. Roger Denson), CEPA Gallery (Robert Collignon and Biff Henrich) and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Charlotta Kotik and Susan Krane).

 
At Hallwalls and CEPA Gallery (700 Main St), works by: John Ahearn, Ellen Carey, Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente [possibly at AKAG], Leon Golub, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Seehausen, Laurie Simmons, [and John Brumfield, moved there from the Albright-Knox, where it had originally been installed].

 At the AKAG: John Brumfield [but moved to Hallwalls/CEPA before the opening], Robert Longo, Rodney Ripps, David Salle, Salomé [Berlin-based German artist], Joel Shapiro, and Russ Warren. [And possibly also Francesco Clemente.]

CORRECTION FOR THE HISTORICAL RECORD, APRIL 27, 2015, FROM A PRIMARY SOURCE (CEPA STAFF):

"One small correction. The John Brumfield work was supposed to be shown at the AKAG [as indicated above], but was changed at the last minute [BEFORE the opening] to 700 Main St. [i.e., Hallwalls' & CEPA's shared address]. It was actually [already] hung in the AKAG, but shortly before the exhibition [opened, we were] told we had to take it down and [that] it couldn't be shown at the AKAG. I think it was too difficult for them. They didn't mind having their name attached to it, but they wouldn't have it in their house.

"They were serial portraits of people who lived in mental institutions, maybe some homeless, I can't recall. The AKAG didn't want to show them in the AKAG."

FURTHER CORRECTION (OR AMPLIFICATION) FOR THE HISTORICAL RECORD, APRIL 28, 2015, FROM A SECOND PRIMARY SOURCE (HALLWALLS STAFF):

"I just read the correction note in the link to FIGURES, FORMS, AND EXPRESSIONS. It's missing the reason that we were given for taking down the John Brumfield work, which was that because the Albright-Knox was across the street from the Buffalo State Hospital Psychiatric Center, which was still in operation at the time, Robert Buck (or probably really Seymour Knox) was concerned that inpatients who would visit the museum might be offended to see institutionalized patients portrayed as they were, without embellishment or sentiment. I argued that it could be conveyed to them (since they came on hospital tours) that to be the subject of art should be seen as self-affirming to them. But the powers that were would have none of it."

This dialogue resumed on April 5, 2018, the day we all learned of the death of Bob Buck, Albright-Knox Director from 1973 to 1983 who went on from there to become Director of the Brooklyn Museum.

Roger Denson (Hallwalls curator): “But CEPA was too small for Brumfield's work, so Bob [Buck] wanted Hallwalls to hang it and he would take the Francesco Clemente. I said no way. He also tried to keep Golub out of the selection [entirely]. And Golub was my main man. I did cave on what I originally wrote in the catalogue, which Bob found quite disturbing. It was modified to suit the Albright trustees, and of course Seymour. So it can’t be said I wouldn't compromise.…I believe [Brumfield’s work] was [already] hung at the Albright. Bob was so mad at me that I was afraid to go there and see the installation.…Ask Biff to be sure where the Brumfield ended up.”

Biff Henrich (CEPA curator): “Brumfield was [originally] hung at AKAG, but within a few days [before] the opening it was moved to 700 Main Street. Roger and I met with AKAG staff including [Director Bob] Buck at the AKAG. Buck insisted it wasn’t going to stay there. Roger did some of his best debating, but to no avail. I finally had to say, ‘Roger, it’s over. We can’t win this one.’ Brumfield went [i.e., was deinstalled and moved] to CEPA/Hallwalls. Clemente was at AKAG. [Roger disputes this.] I remember that conversation only because [Linda] Cathcart said to me how much Buck appreciated that I [had] called an end to the debate knowing there was not going to be a different outcome.…Mapplethorpe was at [and had been selected by] CEPA. AKAG was fine with anything at HW/CEPA. They would back the art in the show, just not in their space.…Roger was correct about locking horns with Buck and he didn’t like it. But I think it [any ill feelings] went away after the openings.”

Roger: “But why did it happen? Did Bob sleep through our planning sessions? Actually, I only remember Susan [Krane], Doug [Schultz], and Charlotta [Kotik] at the meetings. He didn't know what was coming.”

Biff: “Right. He wasn’t in the planning meetings. I think he only reacted after it was installed.”


P.S. (Facebook Comment thread of 4/5/18, continued):

Bob Collignon (CEPA co-curator, with Biff): "Seymour wouldn’t let the Mapplethorpes get hung at the Albright; they we’re hung at CEPA/Hallwalls."

Biff: "I think it was Buck, not Seymour. But [either way,] AKAG didn’t want them. They were the sexually explicit ones."

Bob: "The one’s banned [actually shut down, and the gallery director arrested] in Cincinnati not long after our show! I don’t remember Bob B. in any of the meetings, either. Doug and Charlotta, yes. Some of them were so explicit that, yeah, Seymour probably never saw them. Bob cut that one off at the pass!"

Roger: "It was both Bob and Seymour. Remember that the AKAG didn't have any [recent] figurative work prior to the 1980s because Seymour didn't collect it."

BOTTOM LINE: Mapplethorpe's CV lists this group exhibition as:

"1981   'Figures: Forms and Expressions,' Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo,"

But all of his works in this collaborative, multi-venue group exhibition were actually hung at Hallwalls and CEPA.
 


Some publications related to this event:
November, 1981 - 1981