Judy Pfaff: Picking up the Pieces

November 19, 2023 - March 24, 2024

Judy Pfaff has been a renowned multimedia artist and pioneer of installation art for over five decades. Bursting with electrifying energy, the vast immersive environment she is creating for Sarasota Art Museum will captivate audiences as they navigate this hypnotic, otherworldly space. Pfaff’s largest installation since 2017, Picking up the Pieces will defy boundaries, mixing painting, sculpture, and architecture.

Pfaff ingeniously transmutes and transforms materials, including natural objects from her garden, hand-painted and digitally manipulated images, welded steel, aluminum, wood, expanded foam, melted plastic, blown glass, neon, and LED lights. She is in turn a carpenter, welder, printmaker, painter, drafter, sculptor, designer, and glassblower. Synthesizing disparate objects, her sprawling ensembles evoke nature—its beauty, destructive power, ephemerality, and resilience—and embody life’s complexities and contradictions.
Pfaff’s work is wide-ranging, rather than single-minded, and her fascination with TV news infuses her daily studio practice. Her site-responsive installation at Sarasota Art Museum will express Pfaff’s angst about climate change and social issues. It is also a visceral response to the Florida environment and the devastation of Hurricane Ian, which made landfall in Southwest Florida in September 2022. Pfaff glimpsed its destructive aftermath on Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island in January 2023. The scenes she witnessed then and her fond memories of her past visits are channeled through her artistic vision, which embraces the dualities of life and nature.
Born in postwar London and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Pfaff is a professor in the arts at Bard College in New York. She is a recipient of such prestigious awards as the MacArthur “Genius” Foundation Award (2004) and the Guggenheim Fellowship (1983), and she represented the United States in the 1998 São Paulo Biennial and has had more than 100 solo exhibitions around the world. Pfaff’s work is housed in the permanent collections of Tate Gallery, MoMA, the Whitney Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, to name just a few.

Judy Pfaff: Picking up the Pieces is dedicated to Museum Founder, Artist, and Muse, Peppi Elona. This exhibition is organized by Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College of Art and Design, curated by Rangsook Yoon, Ph.D., senior curator, Sarasota Art Museum, and made possible, in part, with support from: 

Platinum Sponsor
Shari and John Hicks

Silver Sponsor
Judy and Fred Fiala
Huisking Foundation
John and Charlotte Suhler

Special thanks to the many generous donors who made gifts in memory of Peppi Elona.

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