Lexicon: The Language of Gesture in 25 Years at Kemper Museum celebrates artists who have shaped the exhibiting and collecting history of Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art since its founding in 1994. For twenty-five years, Kemper Museum has presented ambitious exhibitions guided by an artist-centric spirit while fulfilling its mission to enrich lives through the experience of contemporary art.
The Museum builds its program and scholarship from the marriage of two philosophical principles: the care and interpretation of the Permanent Collection, a conceptual bridge between the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; and an expanded dialogue with the history of the gesture.
Painting and sculpture form the core of the Museum’s visual history where the language of the gesture is boldly felt—monumental and sweeping or focused and intimate, dripped, patterned, poured, carved, or built, abstract and representational, activated or still. The language of gesture continues to be expressed and felt through the creative vision of the hundreds of artists whose works activate the Museum and whose unique lexicon drives relevant dialogue and intention into the world.
Lexicon introduces the alignment of Kemper Museum’s exhibition and collection histories by presenting well-known works from the Permanent Collection that have been thoughtfully interpreted in exhibitions at Kemper Museum and around the world.
Works by Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Petah Coyne, and Frank Stella are presented alongside new acquisitions from the past five years—including works by Firelei Báez, Nick Cave, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Rashid Johnson, Amy Sherald, and Elias Sime—that continue to fill historical gaps and celebrate innovative art-making strengths across race, gender, ethnicity, and generation.
The inclusion of new work by artists Liza Lou and Do-Ho Suh, whose past exhibitions greatly impacted Kemper Museum’s program, emphasizes the significance of following the trajectory of artists’ careers over time.
Stay connected throughout the exhibition as two additional phases beginning June 18 and July 23 transform and refresh the Charlotte Crosby Kemper Gallery with new pairings and added works. These phases of the installation further amplify the idea that Kemper Museum’s Permanent Collection and exhibitions are a living history that is constantly invigorated by recontextualizing these objects.
They also emphasize the range of gestural expressions authored by each artist providing insight into their individual experiences and acknowledging the universal threads of visual language throughout the exhibition.
Lexicon: The Language of Gesture in 25 Years at Kemper Museum is organized by Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, and curated by Erin Dziedzic, director of curatorial affairs. As part of this exhibition, a new twenty-fifth anniversary catalogue will be published in honor of this milestone year.