Contemporary art fuses with the blues at the Whitney

Beauford Delaney (1901-1979), 'Portrait of a Young Musician,' n.d. Acrylic on canvas, 51 × 38 inches. Studio Museum in Harlem, gift of Ms. Ogust Delaney Stewart, Knoxville, Tenn. © Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator.

Beauford Delaney (1901-1979), ‘Portrait of a Young Musician,’ n.d. Acrylic on canvas, 51 × 38 inches. Studio Museum in Harlem, gift of Ms. Ogust Delaney Stewart, Knoxville, Tenn. © Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator.

NEW YORK – “Blues for Smoke,” an interdisciplinary exhibition that explores a wide range of contemporary art through the lens of the blues and blues aesthetics, opens today at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Turning to the blues not simply as a musical category but as a field of artistic sensibilities and cultural idioms, the exhibition features works by over 40 artists from the 1950s to the present, as well as materials culled from music and popular entertainment.

The exhibition’s title is drawn from a 1960 solo album by virtuoso jazz pianist Jaki Byard in which improvisation on blues form becomes a basis for avant-garde exploration. The title suggests that the expanded poetics of the blues is pervasive – but also diffuse and difficult to pin down. By presenting an uncommon heterogeneity of subject matter, art historical contexts, formal and conceptual inclinations, genres and disciplines, “Blues for Smoke” holds artists and art worlds together that are often kept apart, within and across lines of race, generation and canon.

A series of performances, events, screenings and readings will accompany the exhibition.

“Blues for Smoke” is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

For more information about the exhibition log on to Whitney.org .


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Beauford Delaney (1901-1979), 'Portrait of a Young Musician,' n.d. Acrylic on canvas, 51 × 38 inches. Studio Museum in Harlem, gift of Ms. Ogust Delaney Stewart, Knoxville, Tenn. © Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator.

Beauford Delaney (1901-1979), ‘Portrait of a Young Musician,’ n.d. Acrylic on canvas, 51 × 38 inches. Studio Museum in Harlem, gift of Ms. Ogust Delaney Stewart, Knoxville, Tenn. © Estate of Beauford Delaney, by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire, Court Appointed Administrator.

Mark Morrisroe (1959-1989), 'Untitled,' circa. 1981. Gum bichromate print, 24 15/16 × 20 7/8 inches. The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur.

Mark Morrisroe (1959-1989), ‘Untitled,’ circa. 1981. Gum bichromate print, 24 15/16 × 20 7/8 inches. The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland. © The Estate of Mark Morrisroe (Ringier Collection) at Fotomuseum Winterthur.