A House Divided is a two part exhibition featuring images that represent both how America was once perceived––as a country at the peak of its power and influence–– and images that echo its current state of chaos and conflict.
In a restaged version of Longo’s 2014 Gang of Cosmos presentation at Metro Pictures, the first part of the exhibition recalls an America of the past and includes large-scale charcoal drawings of well-known Abstract Expressionist paintings. It focuses on the historical magnitude of the period, in both art historical and cultural contexts—specifically the shift in political and cultural dominance from Europe to the United States in the years following the Second World War. Considered the most advanced American art at the time, it was championed for being uniquely American in spirit – monumental in scale, romantic in mood, and expressive of freedom.
In contrast, the 2nd part of the exhibition features work from Longo’s “Destroyer Cycle,” a series that focuses on the indelible imagery generated by the current politics of power, greed, aggression, and inhumanity. Large-scale hyperrealist works that reflect the fraught events dominating the current U.S. news cycle, such as the opioid epidemic, California wildfires and protesters at the 2016 Women’s March.
For over 30 years Robert Longo has been a prominent figure in New York’s cultural scene. His artworks, music performances, films and videos invent, cull, and recycle iconographic images from an expansive cultural visual cache to comment on ideas surrounding image potency, production and circulation. He was among the five artists included in the seminal 1977 Artists Space exhibition “Pictures” and is a key figure of the subsequently named Pictures Generation.