Still from Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto, 2015 © Julian Rosefeldt and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

Apr. 19, 2019

Hirshhorn to Present “Manifesto: Art x Agency,” a Timely Examination of the Historical Impact of Artist Manifestos
Exhibition Includes the Washington, D.C., Debut of Julian Rosefeldt’s Acclaimed 13-Channel Film Installation “Manifesto” and Ryan Alexiev, Jim Ricks, and Hank Willis Thomas’ Interactive “Truth Booth”

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will present “Manifesto: Art x Agency,” a group exhibition that examines the art historical impact of artist manifestos from the 20th century to present day, on view June 15–Jan. 5, 2020. Organized by the Hirshhorn’s Chief Curator Stéphane Aquin, “Manifesto: Art x Agency” also marks the Washington, D.C., debut of German artist Julian Rosefeldt’s multichannel film, “Manifesto,” presented alongside a diverse selection of works from the museum’s permanent collection. Comprising more than 100 works of art and ephemera created over a hundred-year period, “Manifesto: Art x Agency” explores how artists used manifestos to engage with the political and social issues of their time and how contemporary practices still employ art as a tool in the making of history.

“Artist manifestos have long shaped our collective understanding of art history,” said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. “This exhibition provides viewers with an opportunity to examine the trajectories of artistic innovation from the early 20th century through today.”

Manifestos, a standard feature of modernist avant-garde movements, were often created to outline the principles of artist groups and to purport revolutionary social and political theories practiced by artists, writers and philosophers. Exploring the idea of the artist manifesto as a major tenet of the 20th century, the Hirshhorn’s exhibition will be divided into three distinct sections. The introduction to the exhibition will feature a powerful display of the museum’s modern collection holdings, including seminal works by artists such as Jean Arp, Giacomo Balla, Alexander Calder, Salvador Dalí, Helen Frankenthaler, George Grosz, Hannah Höch, René Magritte, André Masson, Joan Miró, Joan Mitchell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock and Tsuruko Yamazaki.

Dating from the early 20th to mid-century, these works offer a historical framework for the ideas born out of the various manifestos from this time period. To further ground these works within the ideas that inspired them, a number of published manifestos, including texts from futurism, surrealism, constructivism and lyrical abstraction, on loan from North American art libraries, will be on display as a key part of the exhibition.

Rosefeldt’s titular “Manifesto” (2015) will be displayed as a singular work in the second section. The multichannel film installation, featuring actress Cate Blanchett performing excerpts from some of the great manifestos of the past century, serves to demonstrate the contemporary resonance of the artist manifesto in today’s artistic and cultural climate, while simultaneously connecting earlier aesthetic movements from the previous section.

The third section will highlight contemporary pieces from the permanent collection, spanning from the 1960s to present day. This grouping will encompass works that provide a commentary on political movements and social change within contemporary contexts. Included among the artists on view are the Guerrilla Girls, Adrian Piper, Alfredo Jaar, Nam June Paik, Zoe Leonard, Catherine Opie and Glenn Ligon.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Hirshhorn will present the Washington debut of “In Search of the Truth (The Truth Booth),” an ongoing global project by CAUSE COLLECTIVE artists Ryan Alexiev, Jim Ricks and Hank Willis Thomas. The participatory installation will be open on the museum’s outdoor Plaza June 8–23.

The Hirshhorn will present a series of free public programs to accompany “Manifesto: Art x Agency” throughout the run of the exhibition. Presented in partnership with the Goethe-Institut, the museum will host an Artist Talk with Rosefeldt June 14 at 6:30 p.m., as well as screenings of “Manifesto” and shorts by Rosefeldt. Free tickets for the talk will be released online May 16. Advance Member tickets will be available May 13. Additional programming includes “In Conversation: Reimagining Norman Rockwell’s America” with celebrated artists Hank Willis Thomas, Eric Gottesman, and Emily Shur June 18 at 6:30 p.m. and a free public tour led by curator Stéphane Aquin, Sept. 20 at 12:30 p.m.

“Manifesto: Art x Agency” is organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and is part of “Wunderbar Together: The Year of German-American Friendship 2018/19”—an initiative funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, implemented by the Goethe-Institut and supported by the Federation of German Industries (BDI). Generous support for this exhibition has been provided by the Burger Collection, Hong Kong; Ken Grossinger & Micheline Klagsbrun, CrossCurrents Foundation; and the Hakuta Family.


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, D.C. The collection includes major holdings of painting, sculpture, photography, mixed-media installations, works on paper and new media, making it 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, 364 days a year. For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu.

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Image: Julian Rosefeldt, ”Manifesto” 2015 © Julian Rosefeldt and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019