Whitney Museum

Making Knowing

Craft in Art, 1950–2019

22 Nov 2019 - 06 Jan 2021

Liza Lou
Kitchen, 1991-96
Beads, plaster, wood and found objects
96 × 132 × 168 in. (243.8 × 335.3 × 426.7 cm).
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Peter Norton 2008.339a-x. © Liza Lou. Photograph by Tom Powel, courtesy the artist
Craft in Art, 1950–2019
22 November 2019 – Jan 2021

Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 foregrounds how visual artists have explored the materials, methods, and strategies of craft over the past seven decades. Some expand techniques with long histories, such as weaving, sewing, or pottery, while others experiment with textiles, thread, clay, beads, and glass, among other mediums. The traces of the artists’ hands-on engagement with their materials invite viewers to imagine how it might feel to make each work.

While artists’ reasons for taking up craft range widely, many aim to subvert prevalent standards of so-called “fine art,” often in direct response to the politics of their time. In challenging accepted ideas of taste—whether by embracing the decorative or turning away from traditional painting and sculpture in favor of functional items like bowls or blankets—these artists reclaim visual languages that have typically been coded as feminine, domestic, or vernacular. By highlighting marginalized modes of artistic production, these artists challenge the power structures that determine artistic value.

This exhibition provides new perspectives on subjects that have been central to artists, including abstraction, popular culture, feminist and queer aesthetics, and recent explorations of identity and relationships to place. Together, the works demonstrate that craft-informed techniques of making carry their own kind of knowledge, one that is crucial to a more complete understanding of the history and potential of art.

Drawn primarily from the Whitney’s collection, the exhibition will include over eighty works by more than sixty artists, including Ruth Asawa, Eva Hesse, Mike Kelley, Liza Lou, Ree Morton, Howardena Pindell, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine Reichek, and Lenore Tawney, as well as featuring new acquisitions by Shan Goshorn, Kahlil Robert Irving, Simone Leigh, Jordan Nassar, and Erin Jane Nelson.

Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 is curated by Jennie Goldstein, assistant curator, and Elisabeth Sherman, assistant curator, with Ambika Trasi, curatorial assistant.

Support for Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 is provided by the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation.
Alice Adams
Anni Albers
Robert Arneson
Richard Artschwager
Ruth Asawa
Erica Baum
Robyn Brentano
Nick Cave
Barbara Chase-Riboud
Arch Connelly
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
John de Fazio
Mary Frank
Viola Frey
Jeffrey Gibson
David James Gilhooly
Robert Gober
Shan Goshorn
Harmony Hammond
Mary Heilmann
Eva Hesse
Sheila Hicks
Andrew Horn
Kahlil Robert Irving
Mike Kelley
Shio Kusaka
Yayoi Kusama
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt
Charles LeDray
Simone Leigh
Liza Lou
Kim MacConnel
Agnes Martin
Paul McCarthy
Robert Morris
Ree Morton
Ron Nagle
Jordan Nassar
Erin Jane Nelson
Claes Oldenburg
Pepón Osorio
Howardena Pindell
Kenneth Price
Martin Puryear
Robert Rauschenberg
Elaine Reichek
Faith Ringgold
Sterling Ruby
Lucas Samaras
Miriam Schapiro
Katy Schimert
Richard Shaw
Arlene Shechet
Alan Shields
Diane Simpson
Kiki Smith
Lenore G. Tawney
Rosie Lee Tompkins
Peter Voulkos
Marie Watt
Emmi Whitehorse
Ann Wilson
Jackie Winsor
Betty Woodman