Beverly Buchanan: Ruins and Rituals

Co-curated with Park McArthur
October 21, 2016 - March 5, 2017
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum

Beverly Buchanan: Ruins and RitualsBeverly Buchanan: Ruins and RitualsBeverly Buchanan: Ruins and RitualsBeverly Buchanan: Ruins and RitualsBeverly Buchanan: Ruins and RitualsBeverly Buchanan: Ruins and RitualsBeverly Buchanan: Ruins and RitualsBeverly Buchanan: Ruins and Rituals

Beverly Buchanan (American, 1940–2015) explored the relationship between memory—personal, historical, and geological—and place.

Engaging with movements such as Post-Minimalism, Land Art, and feminism, Buchanan created her own mode of abstraction by investing it with political and social content. Focusing on the formal structures of walls, houses, memorials, and burial sites, her works question the methods and effects of history, asking who is commemorated and how.

Born in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, Buchanan spent much of her childhood on the campus of South Carolina State University, where her great-uncle Walter Buchanan was dean of the School of Agriculture. Devoting her formal education to science and medicine, Buchanan received graduate degrees in parasitology and public health from Columbia University in 1969. While working as a public health educator in East Orange, New Jersey, she enrolled in classes at the Art Students League with the painter Norman Lewis, who, along with the artist Romare Bearden, became her mentor. Soon after, Buchanan turned her attention entirely to art making with a series of gallery and museum exhibitions. In the late 1970s, after a decade in New York and New Jersey, she moved to Macon, Georgia.

Beverly Buchanan—Ruins and Rituals surveys more than three decades of the artist’s work and spans the Sackler Center’s three galleries. The first room features the artist’s cast-concrete sculptures alongside a video installation documenting her site-specific earthworks for the first time. The next gallery showcases a range of archival material, works on paper, and three-dimensional objects that all grew out of the artist’s early interest in the materials, colors, and underlying histories of specific places. The third room is devoted to Buchanan’s best-known works, her shack sculptures. Developed over decades of living and working in the American Southeast, these later works are studies in Southern vernacular architecture and portraiture.

Reviews

Artforum Critics’ Pick

New York Times

Frieze

Hyperallergic

The Brooklyn Rail

4 Columns

Mutual Art, “Complicating the Canon of American Land Art”

Artsy