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 Past Exhibition

Polly Apfelbaum: Split


February 6–August 9, 2009

Kemper Museum

see current exhibition gallery see upcoming exhibitions    

Since the early 1990s, American artist Polly Apfelbaum has been absorbed by staining—pouring and dripping fabric dye onto cotton sheeting and synthetic velvet. By “blotting” the fabric, she creates organic, rather than gestural, fields and patterns of pure color.  Reminiscent of stained canvases by many artists associated with Color Field painting, such as Dan Christensen, Helen Frankenthaler, and Kenneth Noland, Apfelbaum’s dyed fabrics often are installed on the wall, stacked neatly, or sprawled across the floor, and allude not only to painting and sculpture, but also to a myriad of categories in between: drawing, collage, tapestries, bed sheets, and clothing.
Apfelbaum’s Split (1998), from the Kemper Museum’s permanent collection, is a litany of odd-shape swatches of crushed stretch velvet. Stained in alternating colors and individually arranged, each saturated segment bleeds into neighboring swatches, forming a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, and textures. Responding to the surrounding architecture, Split organically spreads over the gallery floor, visually disarming us with its colorful decorative motif.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the installation of Polly Apfelbaum’s Split. Check out our podcast about the process.

Above: Polly Apfelbaum, Split, 1998; synthetic velvet, fabric dye; dimensions variable; Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection; Museum Purchase, Enid and Crosby Kemper and William T. Kemper Acquisition Fund, 2004.7