Cover of catalogue. Reads "Tony Lewis: Anthology 2014-2016"

Hirshhorn Releases Tony Lewis: Anthology 20142016
First Full-Length Publication Devoted to Lewis Launches Hirshhorn Eye-Activated Scholarly Book Series on Modern and Contemporary Art in the Collection
The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden announced today the launch of a new book series focused on significant artworks in the permanent collection of the national museum of modern and contemporary art. The debut volume, Tony Lewis: Anthology 2014–2016, showcases thirty-four collage-poems made by the Chicago-based artist in response to Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, the iconic comic strip about a boy and his toy tiger.

The publication also commemorates the Museum’s 2018 acquisition and installation of Anthology 20142016, curated by Hirshhorn Assistant Curator Betsy Johnson. The book frames Lewis’s practice, which is informed by text, mark-making and memory, and accompanying texts by the artist, Johnson and Theaster Gates, as well as a visual essay by Karl Haendel, contextualize his composition of a unique space and language within contemporary American art. The book is activated with four original Hirshhorn Eye (Hi) videos highlighting Lewis’s method and vision, all created using the Hirshhorn’s award-winning smartphone image-recognition technology.

“We are proud to launch a landmark volume devoted to Tony Lewis, the first book to illuminate his beguiling contributions to American art history,” said Melissa Chiu, Hirshhorn director. “Lewis breaks ground by layering text and gesture with personal and popular culture. His Anthology is as revelatory inside our lively galleries and in the pages of this book as it is in the volume’s Hi videos.”

Left, blacked out comic strips. Right, portrait of artist Tony Lewis.

To create this series, Lewis deconstructed hundreds of frames from Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes anthologies published between 1985 and 1995. The artist reordered them and, through a process of erasing, editing and rearranging text, shaped them into collage-poems, applying graphite and correction tape to eliminate and recontextualize narratives. The resulting series mines the collaborative possibilities of creativity, authorship and appropriation, leaving meaning open to a range of interpretations.

A recorded conversation, On Art and Poetry, between Lewis and Johnson about the artist’s process is available on the Hirshhorn YouTube channel.

About the Book:
Title: Tony Lewis: Anthology 2014–2016 (2022)
Texts: Theaster Gates, Betsy Johnson and Tony Lewis, plus a visual essay by Karl Haendel and a foreword by Melissa Chiu
Hirshhorn Eye: Pages 12, 32, 46, 59
On-Sale Date: February 7
Price: $40/Pages: 128 pages
ISBN: 9788867495146
Mousse Publishing and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

About Tony Lewis

Tony Lewis (b. Los Angeles, 1986) currently lives and works in Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions of his work have been held at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago; Massimo de Carlo, London; Blum and Poe, Los Angeles; Museo Marino Marini, Florence; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. He has participated in recent group exhibitions at Boston University Art Galleries; Aspen Art Museum; HOME Manchester, United Kingdom; LAXART, Los Angeles; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Maine. He is the recipient of the 2017–2018 Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence Award at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all. Presently, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is open daily (except Dec. 25), 10 am–5:30 pm. For more information, visit Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Images: Top: cover, Tony Lewis: Anthology, 2014-16; Middle, left: Tony Lewis, “Maybe” (2016). Pencil, graphite powder, and correction fluid on paper and transparency. Courtesy of the artist. Right: Tony Lewis. Courtesy of the studio. Photo: Mark Poucher.