Join us for a conversation with Ulrike Müller and independent curator Amy Zion on their collaborative project The Conference of the Animals—a monumental mural by Müller and an exhibition of children’s drawings organized by Zion. Oriented along the 45-foot-high wall that encircles The Panorama of the City of New York, both projects respond to the Queens Museum’s building history as host to the United Nations from 1946-50, and the World’s Fairs of 1939-40 and 1964-5 and connect to legacies of public art, 20th-century diplomacy, and modernist art history.
Müller is a painter known primarily for small-scale works in unconventional materials such as enamel paintings and woven wool rugs, often installed environmentally, with careful consideration to architectural features and wall color. For this year-long commission, the artist has shifted the scale of her work dramatically, as the wall is the primary actor. With influence by muralism of the 20th century, the work features a playful, yet muted color palette and looming enigmatic forms that read both abstractly and figuratively. Coupled with smaller works on paper, the work emphasizes the power of scale to shift our understanding of ideas, spaces, and ourselves.
Zion’s exhibition centers the value of art by children, often deft and evocative in its portrayal of scale, long used by modern and contemporary artists as inspiration, instrumentalized in diplomatic efforts, and dismissed as naive. Featuring two sections, the exhibition focuses on the instrumentalization of children’s drawings as a political tool, as well as art by children as an important document of daily life and major social and political events. Made by children from 1909 to today, they range from the childhood output of established artists to named and anonymous works of non-professional artists of various training and ability.
Müller and Zion are joined by scholar and curator of self-taught and Avant-Garde art Lynne Cooke, Senior Curator for Special Projects and Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC and moderator Larissa Harris, QM Curator 2009-2020.
The Conference of the Animals was produced in collaboration with Phileas and with the generous support of legero united | con-tempus.eu. Major support provided by Helen and Charles Schwab and the Austrian Cultural Forum New York. Additional support provided by Richard Gerrig and Timothy Peterson, Alexandra Bowes, JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey LLLP, and Putter Pence. Special thanks to Benjamin Moore, Callicoon Fine Arts, and Gensler. The organizers of The Conference of the Animals (An Exhibition of Children’s Drawings) gratefully acknowledge our partner the Children’s Museum of the Arts.
Major funding for the Queens Museum is generously provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, the Booth Ferris Foundation, the Lambent Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and the TD Charitable Foundation.
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