Beginning November 16, 2023, Venus Over Manhattan will present Retinal Hysteria, an expansive two-venue exhibition curated by Robert Storr, who was previously Senior Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, and Dean of the Yale University School of Art.
Featuring works by more than 40 artists, Retinal Hysteria draws its inspiration from Eye Infection, the landmark 2001–2002 exhibition presented to critical acclaim by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Curated by Jan Christiaan Braun, Eye Infection achieved enduring international impact — and influence that continues today — via Storr’s accompanying catalogue essay, a tour de force that captured and advanced the maverick sensibility shared by the exhibition’s five artists: a small cadre of Americans united by their interest in the unsightly aspects of contemporary life, a challenge to establishment and avant-garde standards, a flair for blending meticulous facture with audacious vulgarity, and a distinct linguistic style frequently misread as mere jest or anti-intellectualism.
Now, almost a quarter century later, Storr revisits these central concerns and expands upon them in the present tense by organizing a cross-generational array of works that irritate, provoke, and unsettle, all against the backdrop of a world he perceives as “coming apart at its seams.” At the heart of Retinal Hysteria are key works by artists included in Eye Infection — R. Crumb, Jim Nutt, and Peter Saul — who are here joined by a host of others, including historical figures and contemporary artists ranging in age from 32 to 89, who share a vigorous dedication to what Storr terms “disorienting intensity.”
Most works on view have never been presented publicly, with the majority created expressly for this exhibition.
Retinal Hysteria will include works by Elliott Arkin, Ana Benaroya, Judith Bernstein, Ashley Bickerton, Louise Bourgeois, J.M. Charcot, Robert Colescott, George Condo, Patricia Cronin, R. Crumb, Woody De Othello, Carroll Dunham, Steve DiBenedetto, Mark Thomas Gibson, Mark Greenwold, Daniel Herwitt, Julia Jacquette, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Deborah Kass, Martin Kersels, Maria Lassnig, Asher Liftin, Paul Mc- Carthy, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Gary Panter, Ed Paschke, Joyce Pensato, Lamar Peterson, Raymond Pettibon, Peter Saul, Sally Saul, Dana Schutz, Jim Shaw, James Siena, Art Spiegelman, Robert Storr, Keiichi Tanaami, Chibuike Uzoma, Kara Walker, Rebecca Warren, John Waters, Robert Williams, S. Clay Wilson, Karl Wirsum, and David Wojnarowicz, among others.
Spanning both of Venus Over Manhattan’s exhibition spaces at 39 and 55 Great Jones Street, Retinal Hysteria will be on view from November 16, 2023, through January 6, 2024. An exhibition publication will be released in conjunction with the exhibition.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.