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The Bass Announces "Phraseology" – Art Exhibition that Explores Language in Contemporary Art

The term “phraseology” references the specific choice of words that a communicator, in this case the artist, uses to highlight certain topics. With the rise of the Conceptual Art movement in the 1960s, many artists began to create art that valued an idea or concept over the finished work. Artists wanted to redefine what art could be and the topics it addressed beyond visual aesthetics. In Phraseology artists merge form and idea by creating works that contain text, familiar phrases and poetry.

Artists in Phraseology employ recognizable language, phrases or slogans that provide conflicting modes of observation to relay a new or different perspective. Placing text in the central role in their art practice, the artists use word play, political activism, subversion of advertising or appropriation of form to reveal, amplify and question histories and contemporary issues.

Artists in the exhibition integrate personal experiences, political activism and recognizable advertising into their works. Vaughn Spann, Faith Ringgold and Sister Mary Corita Kent assert and reveal the histories of power in language and its potential for protest. Investigating the connection between words and images artists like Jamilah Sabur, John Baldessari and Roni Horn explore how we create meaning and memory through association. Through sculpture and reference to book forms, works by Rafael Domenech, Jack Pierson and Kelly Breez explore how text can literally and figuratively construct meaning. The works in Phraseology emphasize the personal power of expression through civic discourse during a time of increased activism.

As a building block of communication, language gives voice to inner thoughts, connecting one’s feelings to the outside world. Language builds texts, books, speeches, poetry and documents to facilitate the exchange of ideas between people while circulating information through social and cultural networks.  Throughout history artists have included words, letters and language as elements in their work to make a statement, draw out emotion or to integrate personal experiences into their work.

Phraseology includes works by John Baldessari, Kelly Breez, Kenturah Davis, Rafael Domenech, Jeffrey Gibson, John Giorno, Jim Hodges, Roni Horn, Sister Mary Corita Kent, Barbara Kruger, Pope L., Theresa Margolles, Yucef Merhi, Maynard Monrow, Jack Pierson, Faith Ringgold, Jamilah Sabur, Xaviera Simmons, Vaughn Spann, Tavares Strachan, Erin Thurlow and Martin Wong. Additionally, on long-term view on the museum façade and lobby are works by Sylvie Fleury, Pascale Marthine-Tayou and Lawrence Weiner.

In addition to artworks, Phraseology will expand beyond the exhibition to include collaborations and public programming throughout its duration.

By ML Staff. Image courtesy of The Bass Museum/ R Vaughn Spann Sou of the Revolutionary by Zaire Aranguren.


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