This text explores how theoretical concepts of opulence and excess are explored in contemporary art, especially jewelry. Images of several exhibited works are included. Focusing on artists from the United States and Western Europe, it offers a Western-based interdisciplinary perspective for thinking about what “baroque” could mean in a modern context. Jewelry forms the basis of this conversation for its historical connection to visual and material articulations of excess and ornament.
While the historical emphasis on baroque in art involved spectacle on an elaborate scale, a contemporary baroque––such as what is suggested with this exhibition––could be identified by its response to excess and lavishness, the decorative or the ornamental, and the theatrical. Artists that address the baroque in a contemporary context play off of a definition of the aesthetic that now incorporates hundreds of years of interpretations and a somewhat shifting meaning that is rooted in social and cultural context.
This gallery guide supports the exhibition Go For Baroque: Opulence and Excess in Contemporary Art, which was on view at the Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI, USA, from May 22-September 4, 2016. Text by Lena Vigna, RAM curator of exhibitions.