This exhibition is drawn from the Museum's substantial holdings of works by Lucas Samaras, a compulsively productive sculptor, photographer, painter, filmmaker, and writer, who has recently donated a group of additional works to the collection. They range from the artist's curiously imaginative pastels from the early 1960s, to his innovative experiments with Polaroid photography and his recent computer-generated imagery.
Born in Greece in 1936, Samaras grew up there amidst the turmoil and violence of foreign occupation during World War II and the ensuing Greek Civil War. He immigrated to the United States as an adolescent, settling in New Jersey, and eventually attending Rutgers and Columbia Universities. A performer at heart, Samaras entered the New York art world as a participant in the groundbreaking theatrical events known as Happenings, orchestrated by artists such as Allan Kaprow, Robert Whitman, and Claes Oldenburg. Ever since he began to make independent work in the late 1950s, self-representation has remained a core concern. "Some artists reject autobiography and psychology," he has said. "I try to keep them with me, no matter how embarrassing they are."
The exhibition features over sixty works in a two-part installation designed in collaboration with the artist. For the South Mezzanine Samaras has composed colorfully painted walls, and for the North Mezzanine he has designed wallpaper based on an abstract drawing from 1962 that is included in the show.