Warhol, Ruscha, Richter and 30 Other Artists Featured at Columbia's Wallach Gallery

February 18, 2016

Works by some of the major artists of the past 50 years are on view in the exhibition Open This End: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Blake Byrne at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery.

Guest curator Joseph R. Wolin (GSAS’92) uses Byrne’s collection to provide an overview of contemporary art and a window into the collector’s personal vision. The title comes from a 1962 silkscreen by Andy Warhol, one of the earliest works in the show. A small but pivotal example of pop art, this image of a shipping label with the words “open this end” exemplifies the way in which contemporary artists have manipulated commercial, pedestrian objects in their work.

Among the more than 30 artists featured are Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Cindy Sherman, Gerhard Richter and Kehinde Wiley. Their painting, sculpture, photography, video and mixed media chart several movements in modern art including conceptual art, minimalism, the Pictures generation—those 1970s-era artists whose work critiqued media images—and the 1990s artists concerned with issues of gender and race.

Byrne (BUS’61), a former television executive and philanthropist, says he hopes the exhibition will inspire others to share their art collections for educational purposes and start a dialogue about art collecting, philanthropy and ethics.

Martin Kersels. Pink Constellation, 2001 (video still). Video; 20 minutes. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, partial and promised gift of Blake Byrne. Photo courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY.

Wangechi Mutu. Pretty Double-Head, 2010. Mixed-media, ink, collage, spray paint on Mylar Collection of Blake Byrne. Photo courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles Projects. Photo credit: Robert Wedemeyer.

John Baldessari. Mesa, 1990. Mixed media, 192 x 52 ½ in. (487.7 x 133.4 cm). The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, partial and promised gift of Blake Byrne. Photo courtesy the artist.

Albert Oehlen. 24-7 Punk, 2001. Inject and oil on canvas; 59 x 43 ¼ in. (149.9 x 109.9 cm). The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, partial and promised gift of Blake Byrne. © Albert Oehlen.

Andy Warhol. Open This End, 1962. Acrylic on canvas; 8 x 11 (20.32 x 27.94). The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, partial and promised gift of Blake Byrne. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Paul McCarthy. Masks (Pig), 1994. Cibachrome; 72 x 48 in. (182.9 x 25.9 cm). The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, partial and promised gift of Blake Byrne.

Marlene Dumas. Thumbsucker, 1994. Oil on Canvas; 78 x 39 in. (198.1 x 99.1 cm). The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, partial and promised gift of Blake Byrne. © Marlene Dumas.

Kehinde Wiley. Adwale, 2010. Bronze; 24 x 16 x 11 in. (61 x 40.6 x 27.9 cm). Photo courtesy of the Artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California.

Open This End continues through March 12. For more information, visit the Wallach Gallery website at www.columbia.edu/cu/wallach.

— By Eve Glasberg