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Allan McCollum: Works since 1969

Mar 26 – Nov 22, 2020
Allan McCollum: Works since 1969

ICA Miami presents the first US museum retrospective for American artist Allan McCollum. Since the late 1960s, McCollum has created works that examine the art object’s relationship to uniqueness, context, and value, as well as to the museum that collects, values, and preserves it. This exhibition surveys McCollum’s output over more than five decades, and makes inquiries into the artist’s series of “regional projects” created since the 1990s. In his work McCollum has used the idea of the collection to explore how we remember, care for, and privilege various material artifacts.

🔈 Hear the audio tour introduction to “Allan McCollum: Works since 1969”

Beginning with the artist’s earliest major works, the exhibition includes a selection of “Bleach Paintings” and “Constructed Paintings” (both begun in 1969). In these rarely seen works, the artist uses common consumer goods (dye, bleach, sailing canvas, caulking) to create large canvases in rhythmic patterns constructed of hundreds of individual parts. With these mechanically repetitive works, McCollum seeks to demystify artistic production and reject the painterly conventions of passion, expressivity, and spontaneity.

Among McCollum’s most iconic works are the “Surrogate Paintings” (1978– ) and “Plaster Surrogates” (1982– ), wooden wall-mounted reliefs and plaster casts shaped like framed paintings in monochromatic colors. Grouped into “collections,” these works are instantly recognizable as they appear like the ubiquitous framed pictures and memorabilia in domestic settings, yet their signifiers are devoid of any reference. McCollum would also explore the notion of originality through photography, notably in “Perpetual Photos” (1982– ), which reproduces artworks used as props on TV. Blurred into abstraction, the works represent neither image nor “content,” only the mere idea of “art” or any framed picture hanging on a wall. Iconic series like “Perfect Vehicles” (1985– ) and “Over Ten Thousand Individual Works” (1987– ) look at methods of collecting and the ways artworks accrue visibility, meaning, and value.

Since the early 1990s, McCollum has explored the ideas of copy and original and how they come to be valued, using popular artifacts from archeological and natural history museums and collective modes of making. This exhibition focuses on a number of these “regional projects,” including The Dog from Pompei (1991), a cast of the famous form preserved as a natural mold in the volcanic ashes of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79; Lost Objects (1991– ), casts of fossilized dinosaur bones; and Natural Copies from the Coal Mines of Central Utah (1994), dinosaur tracks preserved in stone that are, themselves, copies. The regional projects focus on how artifacts become charged with cultural meaning and how collections of objects become vehicles of self-assurance and self-representation.


🎥 Watch a slide show of Allan McCollum donating Topographical Models of Kansas and Missouri, and distribution maps plotting the excursion. These photos depict McCollum delivering every single model of the states to small community museums and historical societies.

Allan McCollum (b. 1944, Los Angeles) has been making art for more than five decades. Survey exhibitions of his works have been held at, among others, the Musée d’art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva (2006); Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany (1995–96); Serpentine Gallery, London (1990); Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö, Sweden (1990); Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (1989), and Portikus, Frankfurt, Germany (1988). He has produced public art projects in both the United States and Europe, and his works are held in over ninety art museum collections around the world. McCollum’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2012–13); “The Pictures Generation: 1974–1984,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2009); “The 1991 Carnegie International,” Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (1991); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1975 and 1989); “A Forest of Signs: Art in the Crisis of Representation,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1989); and “Aperto,” Venice Biennale (1988).

The exhibition is traveling to the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, September 26, 2020–January 4, 2021.

The exhibition is organized by ICA Miami and curated by Alex Gartenfeld, Artistic Director, and Stephanie Seidel, Curator, with Amanda Morgan, Curatorial Assistant.


Image of Allan McCollum, If Love Had Wings: A Perpetual Canon, 1972
Allan McCollum, If Love Had Wings: A Perpetual Canon, 1972. Canvas, lacquer stain, varnish, silicone adhesive caulking. Courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York. Photo: Jason Mandella.
Allan McCollum, Installation View
Installation view: Allan McCollum, "The Shapes Project," Petzel Gallery, New York, 2006. Courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York. Photo: Larry Lamay.
Allan McCollum, Installation View
Allan McCollum, The Shapes Project: Shapes Monoprints, detail, 2005/2006. 7,056 framed digital prints. Courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York. Photo: Larry Lamay.
Allan McCollum, Installation View
Allan McCollum, Over Ten Thousand Individual Works, 1987/1991. Enamel on hydrocal, dimensions variable. Museum of Modern Art, New York, Committee on Painting and Sculpture Funds. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York. Photo: Larry Lamay.