R. H. Quaytman “+ x, Chapter 34”

Guggenheim Museum

poster for R. H. Quaytman “+ x, Chapter 34”
[Image: R. H. Quaytman "+ ×, Chapter 34" (2018) Distemper and acrylic gesso on wood, 94.1 x 94.1 cm]
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The paintings of contemporary artist R. H. Quaytman employ a variety of pictorial and conceptual strategies, ranging from the literary to the logical, from the representational to the abstract, and from the optical to the physical. This sweeping scope has allowed Quaytman to explore many of the factors that enable a painting to generate meaning, whether they be its content, context, or mode of production. In the course of considering the medium’s potential, Quaytman has repeatedly used other artists or their work as subject matter, a practice that reflects on how any work of art is necessarily understood, by artist and viewer, in relation to other artworks.

For this exhibition, Quaytman will present a new group of paintings, titled + ×, Chapter 34, which will be shown in conjunction with Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, the first exhibition devoted to Hilma af Klint in the United States since Quaytman organized a survey of her work at New York’s P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in 1989. This “chapter,” as Quaytman’s focused groups of paintings are called, continues the artist’s ongoing investigation of the factors that enable a painting to generate meaning—including its content, its production, and the physical and social context of its presentation. Taking into account the dedication of the Guggenheim’s founders to spiritually oriented abstraction, these new works offer a reconsideration of the relationship between af Klint and that movement by using the innovative abstract painter’s Blue Books as source material.

Made by af Klint during a late phase of her artistic practice, these ten unique books feature black-and-white photographs of many of her paintings alongside delicately executed watercolor reproductions. The book format, with its fixed series of pages, enabled the artist to make explicit the sequential structure of her work, in which each painting relates directly to the last. As af Klint re-created her earlier compositions in these books, she was also able to draw further attention to her methodical symbolism. In order to examine the analytic qualities of af Klint’s paintings, Quaytman has focused on Blue Book IX, which features the Swedish artist’s SUW/UW Series (1914–15). Working with screenprinted and hand-painted imagery on consistently sized wood panels, Quaytman has distilled af Klint’s groundbreaking formal strategies and reconfigured her systematized imagery, thereby illuminating the ties between af Klint’s radical divergence from artistic conventions and her incorporation of scientific discoveries and visual styles, most notably the diagram. Quaytman simultaneously elaborates upon other underrecognized aspects of af Klint’s work through references to gender, landscape painting, violence, and the body.
Quaytman’s exhibition—the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in New York—will occupy the top ramp of the rotunda. The installation that Quaytman has devised situates these themes within the Guggenheim’s distinctive architecture. Each bay is anchored by a painting featuring the chapter’s central motif, a deep indigo square punctuated by a white circle. These works are hung along a horizontal line, in contrast to the rising slope of the museum’s ramp.
The title of Quaytman’s new chapter evokes the centrality of logic and empiricism in af Klint’s thinking. The characters + × regularly appear on the first page of af Klint’s numerous notebooks, including the Blue Books. Though she viewed these symbols as more than arithmetical notations, they remain inseparable from their mathematical use. Quaytman sees this rationalism as an important counter to the intuitive qualities that are frequently associated with the spiritual—and, by extension, af Klint’s work and legacy.

This exhibition is organized by Tracey Bashkoff, Director of Collections and Senior Curator, and David Horowitz, Curatorial Assistant.
Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future is organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, with the cooperation of the Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm.



from October 12, 2018 to April 23, 2019


R. H. Quaytman


Adults $22, Students and Seniors $18, Members and Children under 12 Free, Saturday pay what you wish 5:45-7:45 (last ticket issued at 7:15)

Venue Hours

From 10:00 To 17:45
saturdays closing at 19:45
Closed on Thursdays


Address: 1071 5th Ave., New York, NY 10128
Phone: 212-423-3500

Corner of 89th St. Subway: 4/5/6 to 86th Street

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