“A poet’s work is to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it from going to sleep.” - Salman Rushdie, 1989
Taking Sides explores the tradition of social critique in modern and contemporary art. Drawn from the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art permanent collection, its title is taken from a quote of Salman Rushdie, the renowned novelist and essayist.
Taking Sides, with nearly one hundred works of art in varied media, focuses on an assortment of themes critical to the notion of art as a platform for political statement: social violence; group demonstrations; abuses of military power; evils of the authoritarian state; threats to the environment; class and racial inequity; ethnic and gender identity; and compassion for the vulnerable. Taking Sides includes Andy Warhol’s charge of intolerable racial prejudice in his Birmingham Race Riot screenprint of 1963; Joan Snyder’s lament for the stigmatized victims of AIDS in Requiem/Let Them Rest, a multimedia print from 1997; and Robert Rauschenberg’s shouting out of political and social wrongdoing in his 1970 screenprint Surface Series 42 (from Currents). The exhibition also draws from an area of strength in the museum’s permanent collection, Mexican Modernism, showing works by José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, and Leopoldo Mendéz.
Taking Sides is timely given the current political climate that has in many quarters sanctioned social injustice both in the United States and abroad. The injunction in the Book of Leviticus that “Thou shall not stand idly by” is as urgently true today as it was 2500 years ago.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, Mexican Muralists: Orozco, Rivera, Siqueiros focuses on "Los tres grandes:" Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Now legendary, these men have emerged as the most prominent figures of the famed Mexican mural movement, which lasted from the '20s through the early '70s and was hailed as the most significant achievement in public art of the 20th century. The dramatic story of the movement is told here in a fascinating history of the artists, accompanied by over 100 spectacular color reproductions of the murals. Showcasing popular as well as lesser-known works from around the US and Mexico, this is the first high-quality paperback to do justice to a subject that will captivate every lover of Mexican art and culture, Rivera fan, and art historian, as well as anyone who appreciates a beautiful, intelligent art book.