In the Palm of Your Hand, My Words and My Thoughts
The Post-Impressionist group the Nabis ended their correspondence between members signing, “E.T.P.M.V. et M.P.,” standing for a French phrase “En ta paume, mon verbe et ma pensée” (“In the palm of your hand, my words and my thoughts”), emphasizing their interest in the symbolic resonance of their work. In this exhibition, this title phrase denotes the connection between works of art and statements written about the artists’ work and practice. In the Palm of Your Hand, My Words and My Thoughts present a selection of portraiture from the Kemper Museum Permanent Collection. The viewing experience is illuminated by quotes taken directly from the artists or those who have written about the artists’ works, demonstrating the influence and significance of language used to describe and interpret works of art.
In Red Grooms’s oil-on-wood painting Nabis (1998), he depicts four artists of the late-19th-century Post-Impressionist group the Nabis. Grooms’s signature style fuses fine art and pop culture imagery, collapsing figure and ground into an abstract field. His satirical depictions evoke theater set scenes that function as an entry point into these complex works.
Magdalena Abakanowicz’s seated figure Sage Y (1988) is a headless body formed of burlap and resin, perched atop a stepped steel plinth. Abakanowicz complicates the identity of the figure by omitting a head, suggesting it represents both no one and everyone simultaneously.
The written texts accompanying the works on view may be accessed using the Kemper Museum’s downloadable app and are available on laminated cards in the gallery.