Casey Kaplan

Artist News

Sarah Crowner, Backdrop (After Rodhe, 1961), 2017, 2, Acrylic on canvas, sewn wall hangings, 59 x 265”. Photo: Kris Graves


A new installation by American artist Sarah Crowner will open at The Wright restaurant, located in the landmark Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, on January 29. Commissioned specifically for The Wright by the Guggenheim, the project consists of four works that will enter the museum’s permanent collection. The project is the second in a series of interventions in the restaurant that the museum opened in 2009 with an installation by Liam Gillick, with the intention of activating this social space as a platform for creative production.

Sarah Crowner physically dissects and reshapes the legacy of modernism in works that at first appear to be geometric paintings but are in fact meticulously sewn canvas collages. Informed by the interdisciplinary practices of earlier visual artists who engaged the applied arts, poetry, theater, and dance, she merges the rarified tradition of abstraction with techniques and materials common to decor and craft. Crowner is also interested in a painting’s potential to function as an environment or performative setting rather than a discrete object on a wall, frequently juxtaposing her canvas works with interventions to the floors and walls of a gallery.

Crowner’s installation for The Wright restaurant directly immerses the viewer in a dynamic composition. A curving backdrop formed from stitched, painted canvas is suspended along one of the walls. In line with the artist’s focus on reviving overlooked currents of 20th-century abstraction, this work splices and repeats motifs from a woven tapestry that Swedish artist Lennart Rodhe (1916–2005) created in 1961 for the sumptuous Operakällaren restaurant in Stockholm. Handmade terracotta tiles with white, blue, and yellow glazes comprise three additional works that complete the overall interplay of color, line, and pattern. Utilizing the architectural elements of a functional, inherently social space, Crowner expands the notion of what constitutes a painting and considers how the surrounding human activity might alter the experience of her work, and vice versa.

This presentation is organized by Katherine Brinson, Curator, Contemporary Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Ari Wiseman, Deputy Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Crowner’s installation in The Wright was made possible through the annual support of the Guggenheim’s International Director’s Council (IDC), as well as generous additional support provided by Mr. and Mrs. J. Tomilson Hill. Founded in 1995, the IDC is devoted to expanding and strengthening the museum’s contemporary collection in all mediums. The group is comprised of art collectors from around the world who share a commitment to the museum’s mission, which includes acquiring and preserving a collection that reflects the most important aesthetic achievements of 20th- and 21st-century visual culture.