less is a bore at the Ica

Earlier this week I was able to preview the new exhibition at the ICA, Less is a Bore: Maximalist Art & Design, now open through September 22. This exhibition is full of pattern, color, and texture, and includes work from more than 40 artists that spans over 50 years! The featured artists include familiar names alongside those less remembered by art history, but they are drawn together by their interest in pattern, decoration, color, and abstraction.

While minimalism and conceptualism were the reigning force in the art world during the 1970s, a group of artists working in New York challenged that point of view by creating works that embraced pattern and decoration, that were inspired by non-Western cultures, and that challenged the separation of fine art and craft.

The first two rooms of the exhibition features some of the work from this 1970s Pattern & Decoration movement, while the rest of the exhibition also explores these themes that were taken up by other artists during the following decades.

Installation view. Photo: Meg Elkintonand Shane Godfrey.

The exhibition includes furniture, textiles, wallpaper, video art, painting, and sculpture. With the rooms bursting with color and pattern, the effect can be a bit overwhelming, and this was the desired effect — to show the generosity and “filling up” of color, line, and pattern that these artists were interested in.

Not everything in this show was to my taste, but there were a few pieces I really enjoyed. Howardena Pindell’s Autobiography: Artemis (1986) is visible in the gallery photograph above. This piece had so much amazing texture.

less is a bore at the Ica

I also really enjoyed this beautiful and delicate installation from Polly Apfelbaum, Small Townsville. One of what she calls “fallen paintings,” this work is composed of a series of small dyed fabric pieces — the effect is so unique.

Polly Apfelbaum, Small Townsville, 2001, Miller Meigs Collection, Portland, OR

The Nancy Graves sculpture Trace is a fascinating mix of strong materials that seem delicate and light somehow, which both grids and organic shapes.

less is a bore at the Ica

The exhibition includes a painting by Kehinde Wiley, The Sisters Zénaïde and Charlotte Bonaparte, continuing his exploration of placing a more diverse selection of people in tradition seeming portrait settings, while playing with ornamentation behind and in front of them.

less is a bore at the Ica
Installation view. Photo: Meg Elkinton and Shane Godfrey.

There is always lots to see at the ICA, and I also love their concert and event series! The exhibition is on view through September 22nd — see more about visiting the ICA here.

P.S. — don’t miss The Visitors while it is on view! I find this six-channel video installation so moving. It will be showing through July 28th.

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