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With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985

Robert Kushner, Fairies, 1980, acrylic on cotton, 99 × 135 in. (251.46 × 342.9 cm).
Marieluise Hessel Collection, Hessel Museum of Art, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on- Hudson, New York.
Photo by Chris Kendall

This June, the Hessel Museum of Art will present With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985, the first full-scale scholarly North American survey of the groundbreaking yet understudied Pattern and Decoration art movement. Including painting, sculpture, collage, ceramics, textiles, installation art, and performance documentation, the exhibition spans the years 1972 to 1985 and features forty-five artists from across the United States. It is fitting that this exhibition be presented at the Hessel Museum as co-founder Marieluise Hessel was an early and strong advocate of Pattern and Decoration and numerous works from her collection will be on view.

With Pleasure examines the Pattern and Decoration movement’s defiant embrace of forms traditionally coded as feminine, domestic, ornamental, or craft-based and thought to be categorically inferior to fine art. This expansive exhibition traces the movement’s broad reach in postwar American art by including artists widely regarded as comprising the core of the movement, such as Valerie Jaudon, Joyce Kozloff, Robert Kushner, Kim MacConnel, and Miriam Schapiro; artists whose contributions to Pattern and Decoration have been under recognized, such as Merion Estes, Dee Shapiro, Kendall Shaw, and Takako Yamaguchi; as well as artists who are not normally considered in the context of Pattern and Decoration, such as Emma Amos, Billy Al Bengston, Al Loving, and Betty Woodman. Originally on view at MOCA Grand Avenue from October 27, 2019 to May 11, 2020 and organized by MOCA Curator Anna Katz, with Assistant Curator Rebecca Lowery, the exhibition will be on view at the Hessel Museum of Art June 26 - November 28, 2021. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated, scholarly catalogue published in association with Yale University Press.

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