Recent Acquisition: Philip Taaffe

Recent Acquisition: Philip Taaffe

Media Room

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art has proudly acquired Enchiridion II by renowned American artist Philip Taaffe. The painting represents a significant addition to the Permanent Collection and builds upon the Kemper Museum’s record of collecting works by artists who continue a dialogue with the history of the gesture in contemporary painting. “The intercultural visual references and sources in the painting beautifully suit the Kemper Museum’s educational mission to broaden cross-cultural dialogue,” commented Barbara O’Brien, Kemper Museum executive director.  Enchiridion II is currently on view at the Kemper Museum.

Enchiridion II utilizes a multitude of non-traditional painting techniques in arriving at the final visual density; hand-stamped shapes of intense color fill the background, while specific shapes drawn from Sinhalese lettering (a Sri Lankan alphabet) hover in a layered space that denotes the foreground.  The work’s title comes from a Greek term for a manual or short text that deals with self-improvement, and is from a long line of paintings by Taaffe that employ a mixture of varying cultures and references; organic and man-made imagery; the biological and the artistic; the enormous and the miniscule; etc.  This threading and weaving together of a wide range of symbols, meanings, and references is common in Philip Taaffe’s work.

Taaffe was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1955, and studied at the Cooper Union in New York. His first solo exhibition was at the Robert Litz Gallery in New York City in 1982. He has traveled widely in the Middle East, India, South America, and Morocco, and living and working in Naples from 1988-91. He has been included in numerous museum exhibitions, including the Carnegie International, two Sydney Biennials, and three Whitney Biennials. In 1990 his work was the subject of an extensive critical study in Parkett no. 26 (Zurich & New York). His work is in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and the Reina Sofia, Madrid. Retrospective surveys include the IVAM Museum, Valencia in 2000; the Galleria Civica of Trento, Italy in 2001; and the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in 2008.

Philip Taaffe currently lives and works in New York City and West Cornwall, Connecticut.

Photograph: © Philip Taaffe. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.