In 1990, Sturtevant painted Frank Stella’s iconic black canvases. The results were morbid and glamorous: matte enamel bands separated by fuzzy pinstripes of nearly bare canvas, which to this day confound withsimplicity and dour aggression. What excited Sturtevant was not only the urinal of subjectivity, but the lifeof a painting below the surface. She hoped to find what she called “the interior of art.” Nice idea, easy tothink, but harder to come to restful terms with.
To prolong her mysterious statement, Gavin Brown’s enterprise will present Bethlehem Hospital, an exhibition of Sturtevant’s “Stellas” shown alongside contributions by the following artists: Anne Truitt, Stan Douglas, Thomas Bayrle, Jasper Johns, Joan Jonas, Jack Whitten, Mark Leckey, Frances Stark, Willem Oorebeek, Adrian Piper, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. The exhibition is not an homage to Sturtevant, nor a way to anoint the paintings. Instead, it is an open inquiry into the works and the confounding questions they ask. The exhibition is alsoa response to the presiding logic of group exhibitions: “time period” or “theme”. Instead, this exhibition isless lucid and more mixed up. It asks: can an artwork charge the “Stella” and in turn be charged? In thisway, the show will not be one cohesive thing but a staging of relations.