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It Is What It Is. Or Is It?

Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston

The exhibition attempts to recuperate a sense of the radicality of Duchamp's gesture and to update dialogues around the notion of the readymade, thinking of them less as static objects than as active processes of articulating thought. With works by 18 international artists.

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organized by Dean Daderko, Curator at CAMH, and marks his curatorial debut at the Museum.

Marcel Duchamp’s readymades are an unmistakably radical gesture in the history of modern art. First produced in 1913, the readymades were, for the artist, “a form of denying the possibility of defining art.” Today, the readymade—as both an object and as an idea—has been so integrated into artistic strategy and discourse that the idea is a readymade itself. It is what it is. Or is it? attempts to recuperate a sense of the radicality of Duchamp’s gesture and to update dialogues around the notion of the readymade, thinking of them less as static objects than as active processes of articulating thought. Artists today use the simple materiality and economy of means conveyed by the form to address a diversity of social, political, aesthetic, and temporal issues.

Participating artists include: Ellen Altfest, Fayçal Baghriche, Bill Bollinger, Chto delat/What is to be done?, William Cordova, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Latifa Echakhch, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Claire Fontaine, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Rachel Hecker, Jamie Isenstein, Luis Jacob, Patrick Killoran, Jiri Kovanda, Klara Lidén, Catherine Murphy, and Pratchaya Phinthong.

This exhibition has been made possible by the patrons, benefactors and donors to the Museum's Major Exhibition Fund: Major Patron - Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Fayez Sarofim, and Michael Zilkha. Patrons - Mr. and Mrs. I. H. Kempner III and Ms. Louisa Stude Sarofim. Benefactors - Baker Botts L.L.P. / Anne and David Kirkland, George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation, Jackson Hicks / Jackson and Company, Louise D. Jamail, Marley Lott, Beverly and Howard Robinson, Andrew Schirrmeister III, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Susan Vaughan Foundation, Inc., and Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Wilson. Donors - A Fare Extraordinaire, Anonymous, Bank of Texas, Bergner and Johnson Design, The Brown Foundation, Inc., Jereann Chaney, Susie and Sanford Criner, Elizabeth Howard Crowell, Dillon Kyle Architecture, Sara Dodd-Spickelmier and Keith Spickelmier, Ruth Dreessen and Thomas Van Laan, Marita and J.B. Fairbanks, Jo and Jim Furr, Barbara and Michael Gamson, Brenda and William Goldberg, King & Spalding L.L.P., KPMG, LLP, Judy and Scott Nyquist, Belinda Phelps and Randy Howard, Lauren Rottet, David I. Saperstein, Scurlock Foundation, and Karen and Harry Susman.

The Museum receives support for its education programs from: Anonymous, Baker Hughes Foundation, Louise D. Jamail. Mr. and Mrs. I.H. Kempner III, Kinder Morgan Foundation, Robert and Pearl Wallis Knox Foundation, Leticia Loya, Elisabeth McCabe, Andrew R. McFarland, M.D. Anderson Foundation, Marian and Speros Martel Foundation Endowment, Mark and Mary Ann Miller, Ms. Louisa Stude Sarofim, and Martha Claire Tompkins.

Teen Council is supported by Ms. Louisa Stude Sarofim with additional support from Baker Hughes Foundation.

Image: Felix Gonzalez-Torres, "Untitled" (Silver), 1992. Light bulbs, metal light sockets and extension cord. Photo: Sven Laurent. Installation view of "Specific Objects without Specific Form" at Wiels Contemporary Arts Center, Brussels, Belgium, 2010. ©The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation. Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

Press contact:
Connie McAllister Tel 713 2848255 or by email

Opening Reception: Friday, May 11, 2012 | 7-9PM

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
5216 Montrose Boulevard Houston, TX 77006
Tuesday 10 AM - 7PM
Wednesday 10AM – 7PM
Thursday 10AM – 9PM

Friday 10AM – 7PM
Saturday 10AM – 6PM
Sunday 12PM – 6PM
The Museum is closed every Monday
Admission free

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