Lesley Vance & Ricky Swallow

Nov. 10, 2012Mar. 12, 2013
Huntington Art Gallery

Contemporary Art Comes Home

Works by artists Lesley Vance and Ricky Swallow are showcased in a new exhibition

In a dramatic departure from tradition, The Huntington presents the first exhibition of contemporary paintings and sculpture to be displayed inside the Huntington Art Gallery, showcasing the work of Los Angeles–based artists Lesley Vance and Ricky Swallow. The stately Beaux Arts mansion that was once the home of Henry and Arabella Huntington is renowned for its collection of European art. In “Lesley Vance & Ricky Swallow,” the artists’ contemporary work is placed in the context of the gallery’s Old Master paintings, Renaissance bronzes, 18th-century French decorative arts, and British grand manner portraits.

“Here we have a married couple, who share a studio, collaborating on an art installation where another married couple lived and assembled a distinctive art collection a century ago,” said Catherine Hess, chief curator of European art at The Huntington. “The parallels are interesting to consider.” The exhibition is co-curated by Hess and Christopher Bedford, the Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Boston.

Approximately nine abstract paintings by Vance and 12 domestic-scale sculptures by Swallow are installed in an upstairs room of the mansion. A number of the works were made especially for the exhibition.

Wisconsin native Lesley Vance is inspired by Old Master painting, including 17th-century still lifes. Of her evolution toward abstraction, Vance said, “There isn’t much abstract painting that feels warm and intimate. I wanted abstraction that works like representation, that invites you in.” Her work has received increasing critical acclaim since 2010, when it was exhibited in the Whitney Biennial.

Ricky Swallow grew up in Australia, which he represented in the 2005 Venice Biennale. Like Vance, Swallow is interested in the still-life tradition. His most recent sculpture often takes as a point of departure household objects that he models in simple materials, including cardboard, then casts in bronze and patinates with surfaces that recall ceramic glazes.

“We think the introduction of a contemporary art display inside the Huntington Art Gallery will create a thought-provoking moment that enlivens the museum visit in a novel way,” said Hess. “I think our visitors will find the connections between this work and the artwork in the rest of the house surprising.”

Related Program

In Conversation: Lesley Vance and Ricky Swallow with Christopher Bedford
Nov. 11 (Sunday) 2–4 p.m.
Christopher Bedford, co-curator of the exhibition “Lesley Vance & Ricky Swallow” and director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Boston, will lead a conversation with the artists inside the gallery, exploring issues of inspiration, display, and relevance. Free; Space is limited; reservations required. Email: [email protected]. Huntington Art Gallery.

Major support for this project is provided by Laura and Carlton Seaver. Additional support is provided by the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation; Margery and Maurice Katz; David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles; Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London; and Marc Foxx and Rodney Hill, Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles.