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Petah CoyneEverything That Rises Must Converge

  • Archive, Archive Exhibitions, Exhibition

  • May 29, 2010 - April 11, 2011

Sebastian Smee from The Boston Globe loved the show, saying, “MASS MoCA, the most consistently stimulating museum devoted to contemporary art in New England, has space to burn, making it the ideal place to show this kind of work[…]. I admired the fearlessness of her aesthetic, which is the absolute antithesis of minimalist cool.” Read the rest of the review.

Unlike many contemporary artists who focus on social or media-related issues, Petah Coyne imbues her work with a magical quality to evoke intensely personal associations. Her sculptures convey an inherent tension between vulnerability and aggression, innocence and seduction, beauty and decadence, and, ultimately, life and death. Coyne’s work seems Victorian in its combination of an overloaded refinement with a distinctly decadent and morbid undercurrent. Her innovative use of materials includes dead fish, mud, sticks, black sand, old car parts, wax, satin ribbons, artificial flowers and birds, birdcages, and, most recently, taxidermy animals, Madonna statues, and horsehair.

A selection of Coyne’s recent work, along with two new works, was on view at MASS MoCA in Everything That Rises Must Converge. Viewers were transported when entering the galleries: baroque works delicately combining taxidermy birds and dripping with wax rose up from the floor, and chandelier-type sculptures descended from the ceiling, taking full advantage of the multiple vantage points of MASS MoCA’s triple-height gallery space. This exhibition particularly focused on works from the previous 10 years including selections from Coyne’s series based on Dante’s Inferno, such as Untitled #1180 (Beatrice) which transforms Dante’s love into a monumental sculpture of black-wax covered flowers with the most subtle color breaking through, and with velvet and various taxidermy birds diving in and out of the towering form. Galleries filled with white wax sculptures were adjacent to the black works — these pale, ghostly images called forth Victorian lace and at the same time the frailty of life. Some of Coyne’s ghostly photographs featuring blurred figures of children, and Buddhist monks were also on view.

Download the exhibition guide.

Petah Coyne was born in Oklahoma City in 1953. She lives and works in New York and New Jersey. Solo exhibitions include Vermilion Fog at Galerie LeLong, NY; Petah Coyne: Above and Beneath the Skin at Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZ; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Petah Coyne: Hairworks, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH. Selected group exhibitions include Damaged Romanticism: A Mirror of Modern Emotion at the Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Houston, TX; Grey Art Gallery, New York University, NY; the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY; Uncontained, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; and Material Actions, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA. Coyne’s work is in the collections of the Addison Gallery of American Art; Phillips Academy, Andover, MA; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, and many more.

Untitled #1240 (Black Cloud), 2007-8
Taxidermy birds, silk flowers, silk/rayon velvet, plaster statuary, feathers, specially formulated wax, cable, cable nuts, acrylic paint, black spray paint, plaster, chicken wire fencing, metal hardware, felt, pearl-headed hat pins, pigment, thread, wire, plywood, wood, vinyl
H 74″ × W 104 × D 174″