Jacqueline Humphries, ∆∆∆~, 2017

Courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali, New York.

On View Now

Transmissions: Selections from the Marciano Collection


In Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s film The Great Silence, an endangered Puerto Rican parrot living next to the world’s largest radio telescope asks why humans listen in vain for transmissions from across the universe when there are intelligent species we might learn from right here on Earth. We might take the bird’s advice and wonder: what other kind of transmissions are we missing that we might be able to perceive if only we paid attention? Transmissions: Selections from the Marciano Collection brings together fifty-seven international artists working across a wide range of mediums who each in their own way generate signals into the ether for us to hear.

Photo Credit: Heather Rasmussen

Some of the artists on view deal directly with the history of electronic transmissions, as is the case with Mark Leckey’s giant inflatable Felix the Cat, whose papier-mâché cartoon form was featured in the first experimental television broadcast by NBC’s New York studios in 1928. Other artists in the exhibition explore transmission through the lens of seeing and being seen. Thomas Struth investigates this dynamic as he photographs visitors at Madrid’s Prado Museum engaging with Diego Velazquez’s iconic painting Las Meninas (1656)—a work itself famously about the act of looking—while Deana Lawson’s meticulously staged photographic portrait of a mother and daughter powerfully looking back at us draws us into an exchange of gazes as we then see ourselves reflected in the work’s mirrored frame.

Many of these artists approach the idea of transmission through painting, deploying a wide variety of alternative strategies and unusual materials to disrupt the medium’s traditional applications. The far-reaching examples in this presentation include Rosemarie Trockel’s use of machine knitted wool to create monumental monochrome paintings, Silke Otto-Knapp’s ghostly use of black and gray watercolors to conjure a vast moonlit seascape, and Sherrie Levine’s embrace of chance in her Knot Paintings, in which she transforms commercial plywood into a kind of painted concrete poetry. Other artists use their bodies to transmit different kinds of signals to the viewer, as can be seen in Kaari Upson’s charcoal wall reliefs, which record the movements of her limbs, or Franz Erhard Walther’s bright yellow wall-mounted painting/outfit, which he describes as an “object to be used.

Photo Credit: Heather Rasmussen

Language takes center stage in the work of Glenn Ligon, whose stenciled coal-dust painting borrows an excerpt from James Baldwin’s classic 1953 essay “Stranger in a Village,” foregrounding the politics of belonging in a meditation on the visible and the invisible. Photography occupies an important place in this exhibition as well, with artists such as Barbara Kruger, Richard Prince, and Anne Collier appropriating images transmitted from the world of commercial advertising and popular culture in order to disrupt, redirect, or repurpose their original messages. Other artists use photography to create completely new worlds, as in Wolfgang Tillman’s “cameraless” work, in which he wields a flashlight in the darkroom to create an abstract sea of color, or Thomas Demand’s Dailies, in which the artist re-creates phone photos of scenes from his daily life, reconstructing them out of paper in his studio and rephotographing them.

Whether delving into the realm of abstraction or culling images from the world around us, each of these artists generates a kind of transmission, a signal that is projected out to the viewer in order to ask a wide array of questions. Like Velazquez’s Las Meninas, these are works that look back at us looking at them and, like Allora and Calzadilla’s parrot in The Great Silence, wonder why we’re looking for remote signs of life when so many forms have been around us all along, asking to begin a conversation.

Transmissions: Selections from the Marciano Collection is curated by
Hanneke Skerath and Douglas Fogle.


Artists in the Exhibition

  • Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla
  • Lucas Arruda
  • Tauba Auerbach
  • Katherine Bernhardt
  • Cosima von Bonin
  • Louise Bourgeois
  • Carol Bove
  • Mark Bradford
  • Talia Chetrit
  • Dan Colen
  • Anne Collier
  • Thomas Demand
  • John Divola
  • Trisha Donnelly
  • Roe Ethridge
  • Magdalena Suarez Frimkess
  • David Gilbert
  • Mark Grotjahn
  • Wade Guyton
  • David Hammons
  • Rachel Harrison
  • Charline von Heyl
  • Jacqueline Humphries
  • Mike Kelley
  • Jeff Koons
  • Barbara Kruger
  • Shio Kusaka
  • Yayoi Kusama
  • Liz Larner
  • Louise Lawler
  • Deana Lawson
  • Mark Leckey
  • Sherrie Levine
  • Glenn Ligon
  • Sharon Lockhart
  • Sarah Lucas
  • Catherine Opie
  • Silke Otto-Knapp
  • Raymond Pettibon
  • Richard Prince
  • R.H. Quaytman
  • Eileen Quinlan
  • Ugo Rondinone
  • Sterling Ruby
  • Gabriel Sierra
  • Barbara T. Smith
  • Frances Stark
  • Rudolf Stingel
  • Thomas Struth
  • Wolgang Tillmans
  • Rosemarie Trockel
  • Kaari Upson
  • Erika Verzutti
  • Kelley Walker
  • Franz Erhard Walther
  • Franz West
  • Christopher Wool
Also On View