The Hammer Museum, 2014 – Press


The Wall Street Journal
“Culture-War Holdout” by Richard B. Woodward
March 11, 2014

Article excerpt:

“…To trace the history of appropriation and institutional critique, the curators have commendably chosen work by some of the usual suspects— Mike Kelley, Sherrie Levine, Allan McCollum, David Wojnarowicz —as well as less-celebrated figures. Of the 37 artists, 17 are women. Several bold-face names— Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, David Salle —have been excluded to make room for work that isn’t as widely circulated: by Judith Barry, Dara Birnbaum, Mark Dion, Renée Green, Mary Kelly, Sylvia Kolbowski, Zoe Leonard, Cady Noland, Stephen Prina and Fred Wilson.

In a show stuffed with what Ms. Fraser’s fake curator would call “difficult work,” one needs to choose wisely where to invest effort. How, why, or if a frame shapes our ideas about art and whether taxonomy is necessary for the understanding of it are themes that run throughout the rooms. Ms. Noland’s “Frame Device” (1989)—a set of pipes arranged like a boxing ring, with aluminum walkers crowded into each corner—has formal and social associations with its neighbor, Haim Steinbach’s “Backyard Story” (1997). Tucked against the back wall, this friezelike composition of gleaming Weber grills, stacked firewood, plastic jack-o’-lanterns and clothes hanging on a line carries references to hardware-store shelves and a museum’s storage room. Ms. Noland and Mr. Steinbach have each distorted ideals of masculinity to rearrange our mental furniture…”

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The Wall Street Journal




Art Forum
US Museum Exhibitions
March 11, 2014

While appropriation and institutional critique—two of the dominant artistic strategies of the late 1970s to early 1990s—are both invariably traced back to their roots in Conceptual art, scholarship has rarely investigated the intersections of these practices or the shared aesthetic, political, and theoretical engagements of the artists we divide between them. “Take It or Leave It” wants to rethink the way we have historicized the period, arguing that the two categories and their practitioners are in fact inextricably linked. With some 120 works by thirty-five artists—from Judith Barry to David Wojnarowicz, Tom Burr to Fred Wilson—this exhibition will not only revise our received histories of the past four decades (as discussed in catalogue essays by Ellegood, Burton, George Baker, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Gavin Butt, and Darby English) but will also respond to recent curatorial takes on the critical and appropriative practices of the era.

Howard Singerman






Art Talk
February 27, 2014

Host: Hunter Drohojowska-Philip

Art Talk Editorial Excerpt:

In the early 1980s, one of the defining developments in contemporary art was appropriation, artists borrowing images or texts from various sources and re-contextualizing them in jarring ways. The intention was to jolt viewers into recognizing the manipulative and often coded power of imagery. And appropriation is what inspired Hammer curator Anne Ellegood and art historian Johanna Burton to organize the exhibition Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideologyon view through May 18. But they added a twist by focusing on artists who used appropriation strategies to critique aspects of the larger culture and its institutions.

In addition, they chose to highlight Feminist artists who were among the first to engage in what has come to be known as institutional critique: questioning the decisions that determine who is heralded and why in museums and galleries and other institutions.

This is a bold twist and one that results in a considerable amount of text-based work, photographic representation and video, logical choices for artists looking at the content of mass media: Sherrie Levine, Jenny Holzer, Gretchen Bender, Dara Birnbaum, Judith Barry among them but installations also abound by artists as varied as Stephen Prina, Haim Steinbach, Cady Noland and William Leavitt…

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SFAQ International Arts and Culture
Exhibition Review
18 MArch, 2014

By Gladys-Katherina Hernando

Article Excerpt:

“Because images do stand in for and motivate social change, the arena of representation is a real ground for struggle.” -Carol S. Vance, “The War on Culture,” 1990

The exhibition “Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology” at the Hammer Museum is an extensive historical exhibition that examines the fundamental roots of institutional critique and appropriation over a forty-year period beginning with pivotal works by feminist artists of the 1960s. Curated by Anne Ellegood and New Museum curator Johanna Burton, the framework examines the development and evolution of appropriation—the borrowing of images and styles from mass media or fine art sources—and institutional critique—the interrogation of art, society, and its structures from within. As a whole, the framework resists what Barbara Kruger has called “decadism,” presenting works from the past as well as the recent present in order to explore history as a mercurial, fluid subject rather than an overarching period.

With each gallery separated by distinct terms—Representation, Politics, Media, America, Language, Interaction, Public Record, and Archive—the spaces overflow with objects and installations. The exhibition display pushes against conventions of a neatly organized exhibition suggesting that institutions, images, and ideology can all be rather messy subjects. And since the works are not chronological, the exhibition forms a constellation of ideas that create generative slippages between memory, history, the past, and the present, building a potential for these subjects to evolve in the future.

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Interdisciplinary Journal of the Arts
Event Review/Response

May 18, 2014

Article excerpt:
“It was an incredibly enchanting to see Mary Kelly, Judith Barry, Dara Birnbaum, and Andrea Fraser all on one panel together, but it didn’t seem like their conversations were as extreme as I hoped they would be. The future of one of art’s most controversial and exciting topics of the last few decades seems to rely on new artists to continue the practice as hope for its development was not optimistic from the panel. It was a really nice thing to hear all of them discuss their practice and I’m grateful for the potential once-in-a-lifetime chance to see them all together in person, but I would recommend that experiencing the pieces that they contributed to Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology at the Hammer Museum is another great way to see them all together in a more insightful way.” – Gabe Garza

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Artillery Magazine


Press Releases

The Hammer Museum – Take It or Leave It Press Release 2014 (Download PDF)


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