Nicole Eisenman. What Happened at Museum Brandhorst surveys for the first time the entire spectrum of the artist’s three decades of work in painting and sculpture, bringing together approximately 100 works dating from 1992 to the present. Relevant from an art historical and social, political and deeply human perspective, it is an oeuvre that manages in an anarchic way to be both an homage to and a critique of its own subject.
Nicole Eisenman (*1965) has been one of the protagonists of the New York art scene since the 1990s and is today one of the most influential contemporary artists. From the beginning, her work has been characterized by a juxtaposition of different materials, formats and techniques from paintings and works on paper to large-scale murals and installations. Characteristically, Eisenman draws from a variety of sources, including works from the Renaissance, underground comics, and socialist murals of the 1930s to name but a few. Many of her works invoke the experiences of lesbian communities in New York. However, rather than being documentary, they are highly imaginative and comic.
In her large-scale figurative paintings since the 2000s, Eisenman references her living environment, depicting the everyday in ways that are both humorous and compassionate. They are often group portraits, yet they tell not only of unity and connectedness, but also of loneliness and alienation within society. Since the mid-2010s, the artist has produced a series of monumental paintings in which she references the tense political atmosphere in the United States following the 2016 presidential election. Some works criticize those voters who fell for Donald Trump’s populist promises. Others feature politically engaged communities working together to confront a social culture that is on a dark path (The Darkward Trail, 2018). In recent years, sculptural works have also become more prominent in Eisenman’s practice. After initially working with plaster at the beginning of the 2010s, these days there is no material that the artist does not use in her sculptures. Their materiality references queer themes that continually preoccupy Eisenman, along with her unwavering humanist and universalist stance.
An exhibition by Museum Brandhorst in cooperation with the Whitechapel Gallery London. Curated by Monika Bayer-Wermuth and Mark Godfrey.