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Café Dolly: Art as Controversial as The First Cloned Sheep

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A new exhibition at the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, “Café Dolly: Picabia, Schnabel, Willumsen,” combines the works of Francis Picabia (1879–1953), Julian Schnabel (b. 1951), and Jens Ferdinand Willumsen (1863–1958).

The show features approximately 75 works by the three artists, whose geography and history differ significantly. Picabia, a French artist who is best known for his contributions to the Dada and Surrealist movements in the early part of the 20th-century, underwent a figurative period later in his career that the show highlights. Artist and filmmaker Schnabel contributed works from the 1980s through the present that include plate and resin portraits. Finally, controversial Danish artist Willumsen is represented with paintings from the late 19th- to mid-20th-centuries, a period of his work that is often overlooked and criticized as kitsch.

Julian Schnabel
Portrait of Alba Clemente
1987
Oil, plates, and bondo on wood
Private collection, New York
© 2014 Julian Schnabel / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Though this might seem like a disparate juxtaposition, the Director and Chief Curator of the museum Bonnie Clearwater argues that by “Comparing and contrasting these three artists [we can heighten] our understanding of their entire body of work as each challenges conventional notions of taste, style, and categorization.” Equally ambitious is the name of the exhibition, which attempts to connect the international controversy over the ethics and materiality of Dolly, the first cloned sheep, with the art historical controversy surrounding the artists featured–a stretch perhaps, but no doubt interesting, and it does make us want to check it out in-person. The show will be up through February 1, 2015, and will coincide with Art Basel Miami Beach. A short drive from Miami, the show will certainly provide a worthy detour for fair-goers in December.

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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