Body of Work

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June 29, 2017 - April 29, 2018
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

Since Paleolithic peoples carved female fertility symbols from stone, we have been fascinated by our own image, and are driven to represent that form in art. Self-representation helped our ancestors create meaning in a dangerous, unknown world, and artists today use the human form to communicate desires, ideologies, and individual and cultural experiences. 

These primarily American and European paintings, sculptures, photographs and works on paper, drawn from the museum’s modern and contemporary collection, focus on the human figure in classically inspired works as well as personal and experimental pieces that challenge viewers’ preconceptions. See works by such artists as Robert Arneson, Elmer Bischoff, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Chuck Close, Robert Colescott, Stephen De Staebler, Judy Fox, Nancy Grossman, and Robert Mapplethorpe that deal with themes such as religion and spirituality, identity, gender, and politics.

This was the final collection-based exhibition organized by Curator of Contemporary Art James Jensen, who sadly passed away in April. His knowledge of the collection, attention to detail, and dedication to the museum will never be forgotten.

For more information about this exhibition, read the Curator's Notes by assistant curator of contemporary art, Katherine Love.

Pictured above:

Elmer Bischoff (American, 1916 – 1993)
Three Figures in a Corridor, 1969
Oil on canvas
Purchase, National Endowment for the Arts grant and matching funds from Academy Volunteers, 1981 (4940.1)
© The Estate of Elmer Bischoff 

Stephen De Staebler (American, 1933 - 2011)
Standing Woman with Open Heart, 1978
Porcelain and stoneware with colored stains
Gift of The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, 2011, and partial gift of Dr. and Mrs. William Wolgin, and partial purchase with funds given by Robert and Marcy Katz, the Shidler Family Foundation, Thurston and Sharon Twigg-Smith, and the TCM Contemporary Circle, 2009 (TCM.2000.25)
Courtesy of Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco & the Estate of Stephen De Staebler