First Look: New Gillian Wearing Art for Cincinnati Art Museum Exhibit

The Cincinnati Art Museum has released first to CityBeat a picture of one of four new works that internationally acclaimed conceptual artist Gillian Wearing will premiere here next month

click to enlarge A first look at Gillian Wearing's "Me as Dürer" self-portrait, which will premiere at Cincinnati Art Museum next month. - PROVIDED BY CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM
Provided by Cincinnati Art Museum
A first look at Gillian Wearing's "Me as Dürer" self-portrait, which will premiere at Cincinnati Art Museum next month.

The Cincinnati Art Museum has released first to CityBeat a picture of one of four new works that internationally acclaimed conceptual artist Gillian Wearing will premiere here next month.

“Me as Dürer,” a self-portrait photograph of the British artist in the persona of the German painter and printmaker Albrecht Dürer, goes on view to the public Oct. 5, when the exhibit Life: Gillian Wearing opens at the museum as part of the FotoFocus Biennial.

The theme of this year’s biennial is "Open Archive." Wearing, winner of the 1997 Turner Prize, is known for reimagining existing images — including photos from her own family archives — as a way to explore layers of relationships.

“Gillian is an artist who is really interested in the way that the public face connects with the private experience, or the social world connects with the private world,” says Nathaniel M. Stein, the museum’s associate curator of photography.

Using elaborate masks, costumes and staging, Wearing recreates selected images of her younger self, of people she’s genetically related to, and of artists she considers to be her spiritual family, such as Andy Warhol and Diane Arbus.

After discussing new works for the Cincinnati show, Stein says Wearing chose to inhabit the visages of Dürer and Marcel Duchamp because of the artists’ significance to the museum. Last season, the CAM presented the exhibition Albrecht Dürer: The Age of Reformation and Renaissance, which featured works from its permanent collection. Earlier this year it unveiled Marcel Duchamp: Boîte-en-valise, its  acquisition of a rare “portable museum” containing 68 small-scale replicas and models of works featuring paintings, drawings, objects and “ready-mades.”

Stein said Wearing’s representation of Duchamp is a large diptych that is framed as a working locket. One half holds an image of Wearing as the French-American artist; the other photo is herself as Duchamp posing as Rrose Sélavy, his female alter-ego.

Wearing selected Georgia O’Keeffe for the third new work in her spiritual family series.

“She’s very deft at choosing the images and the subjects that throw you into these circles of reference,” Stein says of Wearing, observing that many of the portraits that the public identifies with O’Keeffe were made by Alfred Stieglitz, with whom the Southwestern painter had a complicated relationship.  

The fourth Wearing work making its world premiere is a video installation using AI* technology.

Wearing will be at the CAM on Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. for a conversation with Stein, during which she’ll accept the museum’s Schiele Prize, which honors the legacy of Cincinnati artist Marjorie Schiele. RVSP is required; if interested, visit cincinnatiartmuseum.org/wearing or call 513-721-ARTS .

Life: Gillian Wearing will be on exhibit at the Cincinnati Art Museum (953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams) through Dec. 30. Free to members and holders of a $25 FotoFocus Biennial Passport. More info: fotofocusbiennial.org.

CityBeat will have a complete FotoFocus preview in its Oct. 3 issue. 


*A previous version of the story used the term "deep fake;" that term has changed while the artist Gillian Wearing has continued to make her new works. 

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