September 20, 2019 – January 4, 2020 {120 College Street}

Curated by Sara VanDerBeek and Chelsea Spengemann, Director of the Stan VanDerBeek Archive

VanDerBeek + VanDerBeek presented artwork by Sara VanDerBeek (b. 1976, Baltimore, MD) alongside work by her father, Stan VanDerBeek (b. 1927, New York, NY – d. 1984, Baltimore, MD), a Black Mountain College alum.

Stan’s time at Black Mountain (1949-1950 and Summer 1951) was intensely reflective and experimental. He emerged as an artist in the middle of the twentieth century with visions of making art that was accessible, reproducible and perhaps most importantly combined multiple mediums. Stan was influenced by the longevity of ancient symbols as much as by an anxiety for the future. This exhibition included his paintings from the early 1950s; pioneering animated films 1959-1969 with soundtracks by fellow BMC alums John Cage and Jay Watt; and archival material related to his work at BMC.

Stan’s proclivity for language and technology is realized to stunning effect in works on view such as Poemfield No. 7 (1967), a film which has been particularly influential on Sara’s experiments with color, pattern, and variation. Several poems and images on celestial themes also connect directly to Sara’s Rising Moon and Setting Sun (2017), a photographic series that appears to vibrate and shift through a montage of cylindrical forms and sublime atmospheric hues.

Deeply committed to protecting and making accessible her father’s work for as long as she’s been an artist and arts educator herself, Sara’s role in how Stan is received today is as powerful as the influence Stan continues to have on her work. For this exhibition, she selected a precise grouping of her recent photographs and sculptures that together form a meditative, immersive environment for considering how the ethos of Black Mountain College might be transmitted across generations. The fragility and strength evoked in Sara’s work through her pointed manipulations of color, scale, and surface convey a respect for her predecessors as well as a drive to generate meaningful images in an era in which their proliferation, as foreseen by her father’s work, intensifies with each passing moment.

VanDerBeek + VanDerBeek was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts Art Works grant, the Merce Cunningham Centennial, and North Carolina Arts Council.

Additional thanks to BMCM+AC Board of Directors, Windgate Charitable Foundation, Goethe Institute, and Susan Rhew Design and to the following lenders to the exhibition: The Approach, David McConville, Metro Pictures, MoMA Film Study Center, and Western Regional Archives, State of North Carolina.

Sara VanDerBeek + Chelsea Spengemann, Director of the Stan VanDerBeek Archive: Translating the archive and transposing the studio. Collaboration as a practice and as theme in the work of Stan and Sara VanDerBeek presented at the ReVIEWING International Conference on Black Mountain College

Sara VanDerBeek earned her BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1998. Sara is a contemporary artist working primarily in photography. Her photographs utilize a variety of formal strategies and references yet remain consistently engaged with issues of memory and the experience of time and space. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2010); Hammer Museum, University of California Los Angeles (2011); Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland (2014); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2015); and the Baltimore Museum of Art (2015). She lives and works in New York. Chelsea Spengemann is Director of the Stan VanDerBeek Archive. She has worked alongside Sara in the curation of VanDerBeek + VanDerBeek, a new exhibition which explores Stan’s experimental films and includes new works by Sara.

Sara’s father, Stan VanDerBeek, was a pioneer in the world of digital media and experimental film. He began his career as a visual artist at Black Mountain College where he took photography and film classes from Hazel Larsen Archer. Stan began his film career in the 1950s, while working on animation for a CBS children’s show, using the editing equipment after hours to complete his own films. VanDerBeek’s collaborative multimedia projects of the 1960s and 1970s (sometimes characterized as “Expanded Cinema”), with their emphases on transparency of process and audience engagement, anticipated contemporary art’s new media, installation, and participatory practices. These projects include the Movie-Drome of the mid-’60s, in which VanDerBeek used a grain-silo top to build an immersive domed theater. VanDerBeek envisioned Movie-Drome as the prototype for a communications system—a global network of Movie-Dromes linked to orbiting satellites that would store and transmit images.

Performance by Max VanDerBeek

Celebrating the opening reception for VanDerBeek + VanDerBeek, Max VanDerBeek performs a percussion piece accompanied by Stan VanDerBeek’s film “Merce Cunningham Dance Co. in 14th St. Loft/OffTV Paik on Canal St.” (1965).