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Nicole Eisenman: What Happened

Apr 06, 2024 - Sep 22, 2024

About the Exhibition

Nicole Eisenman: What Happened is the first major exhibition surveying Nicole Eisenman’s expansive artistic practice, bringing together roughly 100 works produced from 1992 to today. Formally inventive and materially ambitious, Eisenman works across a range of formats and techniques, from painting to drawing to large-scale murals and installations. A similar sense of variety carries forward into the artist’s subject matter, which features an array of cultural and historical sources, including Renaissance painting, underground comics, and 1930s socialist murals, among many others. Through careful juxtaposition and idiosyncratic detail, Eisenman confronts the most pressing crises of our time, examining significant contemporary moments with a style and vision that is entirely her own.

This exhibition, which traces the entirety of Eisenman’s career to date, begins with murals and drawing installations from her time in the New York art scene in the 1990s, and ends with a selection of large vertical paintings that address key political and social concerns shaping the world today. Despite the massive cultural shifts that have taken place in the decades since Eisenman began working, what remains constant throughout her work is the unfailing determination to hold space for resistance, to hold space for community, and to almost always meet the viewer with an anarchic sense of humor.

The exhibition is organized by Museum Brandhorst and Whitechapel Gallery, London, and curated by Monika Bayer-Wermuth and Mark Godfrey. The MCA presentation is curated by Jadine Collingwood, Associate Curator, and Jack Schneider, Assistant Curator.

About the Artist

Nicole Eisenman (b. 1965, Verdun, France; lives in Brooklyn, NY) received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1987. Eisenman is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2018. Major works include projects for the 2019 Venice Biennale, 2019 Whitney Biennial, and 2017 Skulptur Projekte Münster. Recent exhibitions include Heads, Kisses, Battles: Nicole Eisenman and the Moderns at Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany (2021), traveling to Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland (2022), Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, Arles, France (2022), and Kunstmuseum Den Haag, Netherlands (2022); Nicole Eisenman. Giant Without a Body at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway (2021); Nicole Eisenman and Keith Boadwee at the FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2020); Nicole Eisenman. Sturm und Drang at The Contemporary Austin, Austin, TX (2020); Baden Baden Baden at Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Baden-Baden, Germany (2018); Now or Never at Secession, Vienna, Austria (2017); and Al-ugh-ories at New Museum, New York (2016).

Installation Images

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Lead support is provided by R. H. Defares and Hauser & Wirth.

Major support is provided by Shari Dunkelman Behnke, Charlotte R. Cramer Wagner and Herbert S. Wagner III of the Wagner Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

Generous support is provided by Anton Kern Gallery; Rennie Collection, Vancouver; and Vielmetter Los Angeles.

Additional support is provided by Dr. Daniel S. Berger.

This project was partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism.

This exhibition is supported by the MCA’s Women Artists Initiative, a philanthropic commitment to further equity across gender lines and promote the work and ideas of women artists.

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