Posted on 7/8/2012 7:08 PM by Grace Jeffers

One of the great qualities of art is that it conveys meaning without words. Art makes us feel. Sometimes an artist uses color or composition or form to do this; the artists currently on view in a new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. all use materials to elicit a certain sensory response in the viewer.


Detail of  Untitled, 1971 by Lynda Benglis – beeswax, dammar resin, pigment and gesso on wood.

Howardena Pindell, Untitled 1974 -- Hole-punched paper dots, pen and ink, monofilament and talcum powder on oak tag paper. Photo courtesy National Gallery of Art

Joseph Beuys, Filzpostkarte (Felt Postcard), 1985 -- silkscreen on felt

Ann Hamilton, (lineament-ball), 1994 -- unwound book, glass and wood. Photo courtesy National Gallery of Art

As the show’s curator, Andrea Nelson, writes:  “Appealingly tactile and visually provocative, the works in this installation engage the senses through their distinctive materiality. Created with wax, dirt, thread and other unconventional items, they emphasize the power of materials to inform content and convey meaning. Blurring traditional boundaries between media – by combining painting with sculpture or sculpture with photography – these works establish new, hybrid forms of art.”

“With their innovative and at times surprising uses of materials, the artists whose work is shown here intervene in our normal viewing habits, focusing our attention on how we experience art.”

Material Interventions is on view in the Modern Lab until August 12, 2012.