Idelle Weber and Aurora Robson “Remnant Romance, Environmental Works”

Hollis Taggart Galleries

poster for Idelle Weber and Aurora Robson “Remnant Romance, Environmental Works”

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Hollis Taggart presents a two-person exhibition of work by Idelle Weber and Aurora Robson. Remnant Romance, Environmental Works: Idelle Weber and Aurora Robson will feature oil paintings and watercolors by Weber (1932-2020) alongside new multimedia sculptural work by Robson (b. 1972), who studied the late artist’s work while creating new pieces for the exhibition. Remnant Romance will create a dialogue between the artists, who, despite working in different media and being part of distinct generations, both draw inspiration from trash and seek to find beauty in the remnants of other peoples’ lives. Remnant Romance, Environmental Works: Idelle Weber and Aurora Robson.

Idelle Weber is perhaps most well known for her contribution to Pop Art and her famous silhouette paintings, in which she depicted anonymous figures doing quotidian activities against nondescript backgrounds. In the late 1960s, continuing to find inspiration in the everyday but shifting in style to photorealism, Weber turned her attention to overlooked common daily sights in New York City such as fruit stands and street litter. The artist’s photorealist paintings were a continuation of the consumerism reflected in her Pop Art works, and were exhibited more widely. Over the past decade, however, Weber’s Pop Art has received more attention, largely due to curator Sid Sach’s inclusion of her silhouette paintings in his Beyond the Surface and Seductive Subversion exhibitions in 2010. Remnant Romance provides the opportunity to revisit the important but recently less studied photorealist period of the artist’s oeuvre, featuring fourteen paintings and watercolors ranging from the 1970s to the 2000s.

In these works, Weber meticulously captures the colors, textures, and placement of litter lying on the street, approaching her decidedly commonplace subject matter as if it were a carefully staged still life. In East End Bufferin (1990), for example – which was shown in the 1991 “Six Takes on Photo-Realism” exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art alongside works by Richard Estes and Audrey Flack, among others – Weber focused on a dead bird nestled between an empty beer bottle and discarded wrappers, with bits of trash intermixing with wilted flowers and trampled grass on the side of a road.

Before being invited to participate in Hollis Taggart’s exhibition, Robson had only been familiar with Weber’s Pop Art and East End Bufferin. Deeply inspired by Weber’s photorealist works and the kinship she felt with the late artist and their shared desire to focus on the residual, Robson hung reproductions of Weber’s paintings around her studio as she created the new work featured in the show. While Weber has been described as a “portraitist of the used-up and cast-off,” Robson refers to herself as a “glorified janitor,” collecting other peoples’ trash to upcycle into whimsical sculptures made up entirely of plastic and paper debris. Robson’s flowing sculptural forms look organic, as if something one may stumble upon in nature, though they are made entirely of synthetic plastic.

Many of the works featured in Remnant Romance were created using materials and methods that are new to Robson. The two headpieces in the exhibition, Plantpocalypse and Doughnut Economics (both 2020), are made out of plastic strapping combined with used headware (a found hard hat and the artist’s old welding helmet, respectively) – all materials she has never used before. In order to create these and some of the other featured works, Robson also started using a new technique: sewing through plastic using an antique industrial sewing machine. This, along with her use of an ultrasonic welder, has allowed the artist to build her sculpture forms without metal rivets, further adding to their organic appearance.

While Weber maintained that her work was merely aesthetic and not intended to be moralizing, Robson’s deeply pleasing flowing forms are more intentionally provocative. The natural appearance and beauty of Robson’s forms belie their origins in refuse sites and trash bins, and the artist challenges the viewer to consider our collective failure in treating too many things as disposable and the unfathomable amount of waste produced by humanity. Robson is also the founding artist of Project Vortex, an international collective of artists, designers and architects who also work in innovative ways with plastic debris.

“There is a real synergy between Weber finding aesthetic pleasure in spaces of thoughtless consumption and waste and my own desire to add beauty and light to the world through transforming trash,” said Robson. “Weber and I shared an affinity for refuse sites and seeing them as inspirational sites for new beginnings rather than disgraceful endings. Waste to me represents a contemptible lack of grace. My work is an effort to add some measure of grace to the world.”



from January 14, 2021 to February 20, 2021

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