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Fall exhibits open Friday at Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College

Image: April Gornik, Light Passing, 1987, oil on linen, 76 x 106 in.. Courtesy of Danese/Corey Gallery.

Image: April Gornik, Light Passing, 1987, oil on linen, 76 x 106 in.. Courtesy of Danese/Corey Gallery.

The Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College will hold the opening of its 105th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art: Threatening Beauty on Friday, September 30, with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Also opening September 30 in the gallery adjacent to Threatening Beauty is a solo exhibition by world-renowned artist Hans Haacke entitled Dreams That Money Can Buy.

The first Annual was installed at the College in 1911. It is the longest-running series of original exhibitions of contemporary art staged by any academic institution in the United States. Acquisitions from each of the Annuals have helped to build the College’s collection of American art, chiefly paintings, works on paper, and photographs dating from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

Traditionally the Annual is a group exhibition inspired by a common theme. This year’s exhibition, Threatening Beauty, features 10 artists working in a variety of media who explore the tension between the sublime and the sinister. Artists include Teresita Fernández, April Gornik, Sharon Horvath, Matthew Klein, Susie MacMurray, David Maisel, Judith Schaechter, Kiki Smith, Barbara Takenaga, and Kako Ueda. The artists represented in Threatening Beauty explore its theme in a variety of ways. Some of the works are informed by specific events, while others illustrate the wonder and aesthetic of natural phenomenon. At its heart, the exhibition celebrates the radical force of brazen, unabashed beauty and its power to change us.

“There is both a sense of underlying seduction and unease present in many of the works,” said Martha Kieseth Johnson, Maier director and curator of Threatening Beauty.Threatening Beauty examines the paradox of enchantment and how it is both delight and delusion in the way that fiction implies both fantasy and deceit.”

Hans Haacke, one of the foremost Conceptual artists, creates work that addresses, and often exposes, the inner workings of social and political structures. He describes his five decades of artistic output as being concerned with systems in general, whether they be natural or cultural. Haacke’s installations are designed with an attention to the particular time and space of the exhibition.

The show organized for the Maier, Dreams that Money Can Buy, is a selection of works that have appeared in different contexts. The central focus is a piece entitled The Business Behind Art Knows the Art of the Koch Brothers (2014), a critique of the system of wealth-fueled influence over art and public policy. An ongoing concern for Haacke, it explores the way art has been used in corporate culture as a tool to promote particular ideologies in more or less overt ways.

The installation also includes a sculpture consisting of a damaged metal locker tipped over on its side, spilling a pool of pennies. It was first shown in Haacke’s 2005 exhibition, State of the Union, which reflected on the aftermath of 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The Maier installation offers a recasting of these concerns within the context of the current congressional and presidential election season.

Rounding out the installation will be the maquette for Gift Horse (2013), Haacke’s winning proposal for the Fourth Plinth on London’s Trafalgar Square in front of the National Gallery. A meditation on capital and casualty, Haacke’s work was unveiled in London on March 5, 2015. Its 18-month run concludes just as the Maier’s exhibition opens. The inclusion of the Gift Horse, maquette is especially relevant given the College’s unique partnership with the National Gallery, London, established in 2014.

On Sunday, October 2 at 1 p.m., the Maier will host “A Conversation with Visiting Artist Hans Haacke,” moderated by Sarah Kleinman, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Art History/School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University. The conversation will center on seminal works from his oeuvre as well as his current installation at the Maier, Dreams That Money Can Buy. A brief tour of his installation and a reception will follow the Q&A session.

The Maier’s fall exhibitions will open with a reception on Friday, September 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. and will remain on view through December 16. The Maier plans to hold a variety of other programs related to both exhibitions over the next several months, including family workshops, lectures, tours, and a two-day symposium on November 5-6 featuring three artists included in Threatening Beauty. Visit for more information about programs and events at the Maier.

During the academic year, the Maier is open Tuesday-Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission to the Maier and its programs are free, unless otherwise noted.

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