Collection Spotlight: Derrick Adams Selects
Derrick Adams curates a selection of artworks from the Museum’s permanent collection that highlight our interactions with water: visual, physical, and emotional.
Water is a classic element of landscape painting found in many artworks in the Museum’s collection. Flowing rivers, placid lakes, roaring falls, and turbulent seas are often used to characterize a locale, anchor a composition, or demonstrate painting prowess. In keeping with the themes of leisure and celebration present in his work on view in Buoyant, Derrick Adams curates a selection of artworks from the Museum’s permanent collection that highlight our interactions with water: visual, physical, and emotional.
Adams’ selections cover a wide range of styles, from representational to abstract, and span the 1870s to the 2010s. Included are prints by Winslow Homer, Paul Cadmus, and Eric Fischl, each of whom depicted swimmers at beaches throughout their careers, seeking these scenes for their thematic potential. Dynamic composition is the overriding element in Robert Motherwell’s print of an Italian coastline—an abstraction of land and sea, where the human presence is merely implied. From the photography collections, Adams chose an image of women sunbathing by Mary Frey, an exuberant boy leaping into a public pool by Kathy Gardner, and snapshots of sailors relaxing, keepsakes of Navy ensign Luther Garrison Jr. An artwork by Winfred Rembert radiates the same expression of Black joy that pervades the Floaters and We Came to Party and Plan.
In addition, Adams’ selection features a recently acquired original copy of the Ebony issue that featured a photo essay about Martin Luther King Jr.’s trip to Jamaica. “This is radical imagery. This photoshoot is one of the primary inspirations for my body of work, Culture Club, and its Floaters series,” says Adams. “That these images don’t come up as much in a Google search was the motivating factor in my creating work of Black bodies at leisure.”
A selection of the works on view in Collection Spotlight: Derrick Adams Selects is included in the exhibition catalog accompanying Derrick Adams: Buoyant.