Hybrid Neutral: Modes of Abstraction and the Social

  • David Diao, Black and White, 1986. Acrylic on canvas. Collection of Barbara and Eugene Schwartz.

  • Jeff Koons, Snorkel Vest, 1985. Courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery, New York.

  • Allan McCollum, Five Plaster Surrogates, 1988. Courtesy of the artist and John Weber Gallery.

  • Haim Steinbach, ultra red, 1986. Collection of Barbara and Eugene Schwartz.

  • Philip Taaffe, Brest, 1985. Collection of Martin Sklar.

  • John M. Armleder, "Untitled" Furniture Sculpture, 1986. Collection of John Gibson.

Curated by Tricia Collins, Richard Milazzo

“The terms on which any ambitious curatorial effort might be set out today are necessarily hazy and full of hidden pitfalls. Attempts to group a wide array of contemporary artists are always set in motion by a trope, usually by a cliché. A change from previous periods is assumed, lines of discussion are laid down, other discourses become fractured or co-opted. And invariably a claim is made for the importance of one thing over another.


What Collins and Milazzo propose as a paradigmatic cultural ‘eye’ is really that of their own maverick spectatorship, operating outside the institutional codes that normally produce an historical canon. Their argument originates in the debris of Neo-Expressionism, a movement conjured to revive a faltering art market. As mentioned earlier, Neo-Expressionism served as a throwback to Modernist history-making and the hero cult embedded in museum culture; the attrition built into all essentially conservative cultural formulations quickly embalmed Neo-Expressionism and made it irrelevant, though some of its exemplars persist as celebrity figures in the media. The subsequent resurgence of conceptual work was actually more consistent with an authentic historicizing ‘eye’ than Neo-Expressionism was, in the sense that Neo-Conceptualism extends certain logical developments arising out of Pop, Conceptual art, and Minimalism. But the point should be made that ‘history,’ in any textbook formulation, has been superseded by the meta-history of art as a sociological effusion; it is this meta-historical dimension that the artists in Hybrid Neutral assume as the site of their work.


The kind of hybrid work Collins and Milazzo have selected has the effect of preempting critical interventions. Procedurally, it has evolved beyond the reactive ironies of earlier Neo-Conceptualism; it can be viewed in contrast to earlier forms of both abstract and representational, or in terms of blurred boundaries between photography, painting, and sculpture (a blurring typical of the work that proceeded from the Pictures theory). We are confronted with a practice in which the old hierarchy of materials has virtually disappeared for the artist, although the market continues to reify it.”


– Excerpt from catalogue essay by Gary Indiana, 1988


Accompanying this exhibition is the catalogue Hybrid Neutral: Modes of Abstraction and the Social, with an additional essay by Tricia Collins and Richard Milazzo. Please click here or visit our shop for more information.




touring schedule

University Gallery, University of North Texas
Denton, TX, United States
October 2, 1991 - November 16, 1991

Mendel Art Gallery
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
July 19, 1990 - August 26, 1990

Santa Fe Gallery, Santa Fe Community College
Gainesville, FL, United States
February 4, 1990 - March 18, 1990

Richard F. Brush Gallery, Saint Lawrence University
Canton, NY, United States
October 12, 1989 - November 14, 1989

Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH, United States
March 31, 1989 - May 6, 1989

Alberta College of Art Gallery
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
February 9, 1989 - March 9, 1989

J.B. Speed Museum of Art
Louisville, KY, United States
November 7, 1988 - January 2, 1989

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