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Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations

September 28, 2019 – March 01, 2020
Sanford Biggers, Quilt #15, Harmonics 2 (detail), 2012. Fabric-treated acrylic, spray paint, and cotton on repurposed quilt; 79 1/2 x 80 3/4 inches (201.9 x 205.1 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Gift of Paula Cooper in honor of Patsy and Raymond Nasher, 2015.1.1. © Sanford Biggers. Courtesy of the artist and David Castillo Gallery, Miami. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.

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Jeff Sonhouse, Decompositioning, 2010. Mixed media on canvas, 82 x 76 1/4 inches (208.3 x 193.7 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Museum purchase, 2010.15.1. © Jeff Sonhouse. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.
Jeff Sonhouse, Decompositioning, 2010. Mixed media on canvas, 82 x 76 1/4 inches (208.3 x 193.7 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Museum purchase, 2010.15.1. © Jeff Sonhouse. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.

This exhibition highlights works from the Nasher Museum collection that engage visual and musical rhythm. Rhythm may be expressed through repeated patterns of color, form or movement, or, in other cases, implied sound and dance. Whether they embody a beat or a swing, these works carry a pulse that helps guide the viewer through time and space. As wide-ranging objects that reference the power of rhythm and music to transcend earthly concerns, collectively they become cosmic in their vast reach and otherworldly magnetism.

The majority of works come from the museum’s contemporary collection, but the exhibition also includes other artistic eras, genres, and modes of production, such as modern paintings, nineteenth-century prints, traditional African instruments, and ancient American ceramics. By incorporating a variety of objects, Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations draws out a complex picture of rhythm across cultures and time periods, including its ability to create a sense of belonging and shape identity.

The exhibition includes new acquisitions by Elizabeth Matheson, Dave Muller, Paulo Nazareth and Gordon Parks; a pyramid of cymbals by Satch Hoyt; a music and photography installation by Xaviera Simmons; vibrating landscapes by Charles Burchfield; singing birds by James Audubon, a Gee’s Bend quilt by Nettie Young, and much more. Other artists include Sanford Biggers, Nick Cave, Bruce Conner, William Cordova, Jeffrey Gibson, Barkley L. Hendricks, Silvia Heyden, Winslow Homer, Taiyo Kimura, Leonid Lamm, Mary Long, Christian Marclay, Steve McQueen, Archibald Motley, Odili Odita, Reynaldo Olivares, Robert Pruitt, Robin Rhode, Dario Robleto, Jeff Sonhouse, Alma Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Bob Thompson, Mose Tolliver, Alice Wagner, Nari Ward, Andy Warhol, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others.

The title of the exhibition derives from a long, hypnotic composition of the same name recorded in 1993 by the Nigerian drummer and social activist Babatunde Olatunji (1927 – 2003). Olatunji played an influential role in US culture. He had a song dedicated to him by John Coltrane, won a Grammy Award for his collaboration with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, and performed at numerous civil rights rallies led by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations acknowledges rhythm’s transformative energy and its potential to bring people together to effect social change.

Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations is organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum.

Support

Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations is supported by Duke Health and The Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Fund for Exhibitions.

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