Sotheby’s Institute of Art is pleased to present Represented Past, a group exhibition curated by Ali Edelson, Master of Art Business candidate class of 2019, and John Egner, Master of Contemporary Art class of 2019. The exhibit, on view from April 17 to April 22, 2019, marks the first installment in a series of exhibitions curated by MA students enrolled in Curating Contemporary Art. The exhibitions are free and open to the public, Monday–Friday from 9 am to 6 pm and require prior registration.

Represented Past examines the diverse ways in which contemporary artists are revisiting themes and tropes of the traditional Western canon of art history in order to break it open and make strives for inclusion and experimentation. Through their use of contemporary practices and materials, these artists are establishing a dialogue with the past, while combating the notion that contemporary artistic production must constantly represent something fundamentally inherently new. For these artists, the past lends itself to reinventing the present of art-making tendencies — they are re-engaging with the canon, mining the formal and existential qualities of classical art. Through this conscious act of excavating art history, these artists are oscillating between an indebtedness to the thematic visual language of the past and the impulse to manipulate this past in the present moment.

Represented Past suggests rightfully that art history can be re-written, altered to atone for its omissions and neglected subjects and that the visual language of the past can be formally abstracted and rendered metaphysical. Anna Cone and Annina Roescheisen engage and disrupt the conventional iconography and canonical tradition head-on through a re-inclusion of contemporary figures and an engagement with digital media. Elise Ansel, Perry Khalil, William Logan, and Michael Mapes choose instead to investigate and manipulate the formal elements of traditional mediums, abstracting classical aesthetics in order to generate new meaning in works ranging from sculpture to digital media, and painting.

While multifarious in respect to these artists’ practices, Represented Past suggests that the past remains relevant in how it can be reinterpreted in the present and reimagined for the future.