Get Tickets to Mark Mothersbaugh: Artist Talk

Get tickets to Mark Mothersbaugh in conversation with Adam Lerner

(Adam Lerner is Director, and Chief Animator, Department of Fabrications of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and the Curator of Myopia)
Saturday, May 28 • 2:00 pm • Akron-Summit County Public Library.

Myopia Monument

Mark Mothersbaugh, 1964-Monument to the conquerors of space, 2012, inkjet on paper, 39 x 61 in., Courtesy of the artist.

Myopia Roli Poli

Mark Mothersbaugh, Proletariat 4, 2014, painted inkjet print, 60 x 42 in., Courtesy of the artist.

Myopia Postcards

Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia installation view. Photo: Trevor Brown, Jr., courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

Myopia Roli Poli installation

Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia installation view. Photo: Trevor Brown, Jr.,  courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

Myopia Anita

Mark Mothersbaugh, Anita's First Boyfriend, 2004, corrected photograph, 20 x 20 in., Courtesy of the artist.

Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia

May 29, 2016 - August 28, 2016
Akron: Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries
Cleveland: Mueller Family Gallery and Rosalie and Morton Cohen Family Gallery

Myopia is the first retrospective of the work of Mark Mothersbaugh, spanning the beginning of his career in the early 1970s through the present. Born in Akron, OH, and co-founder of the New Wave band DEVO, Mothersbaugh has been making art for more than forty years—since before the band’s inception in the early 1970s. This body of work presents a unique combination of cultural criticism and personal expression through drawings, films, paintings, sculpture and music. But more than that, his work provides a missing link in the history of contemporary art and culture. At once an artist, musician, and tinkerer, he offers a key to understanding the current state of art, with its hybridity, subjectivity and fluid boundaries. Mothersbaugh’s work reveals his unique artistic voice and also asserts his role in the intersecting legacies that have formed contemporary culture.

Throughout his career, Mothersbaugh’s work has both embraced handmade qualities and also incorporated the slick elements of consumer culture. With a continuous assault on the de-humanizing nature of our highly technological society, Mothersbaugh’s work asks the question: how can we be ourselves in the face of an impersonal, consumer-driven society? But the answer is complex. Mothersbaugh doesn’t simply advocate for a war of the organic against the mechanistic. He also doesn’t maintain a simple, ironic distance from the synthetic nature of modern society. Instead, the artist insists that there is the room for individual creativity in consumer society. Sometimes the picture he paints is dark and cynical and sometimes playful and light, but he always makes the case that it is possible to find personal pleasure and artistic expression in the realms of both technology and the handmade. The band DEVO, with its homespun robotic image, is one articulation of that aesthetic vision, which takes a multitude of forms in Mothersbaugh’s larger body of work.

The Akron Art Museum is partnering with MOCA Cleveland to jointly present Mothersbaugh’s work in simultaneous exhibitions across Northeast Ohio. Myopia in Cleveland focuses on experimentation, performance, and sound. Works on view present the Mothersbaugh’s early sketchbooks and ephemera, documentation of DEVO’s first performances, the band’s commercial and conceptual development, and Mothersbaugh’s ongoing experimentation with manipulated musical instruments. Myopia at the Akron Art Museum turns its attention on Mothersbaugh’s visual art practice, including installations of recent sculpture, prints, rugs, and a collection of 30,000 postcard-sized drawings the artist has created and utilized for inspiration and exploration throughout his career. By visiting the exhibition in both venues, audiences will get a wide-ranging perspective of Mothersbaugh’s prolific output of artwork, music, ideas, restless invention, and distinctive sense of humor.

Taken together, this incredibly unified body of work reveals the artist’s persistent attempt to navigate between the conflicting forces of cynicism and freedom, and irony and originality. Like his early work with DEVO, Mothersbaugh explores the complex relationship between what is synthetic and what is authentic.

This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

Its presentation in Akron is generously supported by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Audio-Technica, the John P. Murphy Foundation, EarthQuaker Devices, the Department of Print Media & Photography, Kent State University and TKM. Media sponsorship is provided by Western Reserve PBS and 91.3 The Summit.

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation The John P. Murphy Foundation Audio-Technica
EarthQuaker Devices TKM Print Solutions
Western Reserve PBS 91.3 The Summit


Related Links:

[ Jeff Niesel, "Rubber City Rebel: Inside Mark Mothersbaugh's Magical World of Mutants, Monsters and Mongoloids," Cleveland Scene ] [ Steven Litt, "Q&A with Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh, whose 'Myopia' show opens soon at two NEO museums," Cleveland Plain Dealer ] [ Kathleen Folkerth, "Mothersbaugh exhibit a lighthearted display of artist’s world view," ]