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Sari Dienes

Sari Dienes is the first museum show devoted to the artist. In the early 1950s, Sari Dienes used experimental processes to create bold works on paper, impressing into her pictorial support the gritty and vibrant terrain of New York City’s streets. Her transfer drawings of subway grates, sidewalks, and manhole covers produced images that were at once abstract patterns and highly recognizable subjects. Armed with an ink roller, she mapped her urban haunts as well as her body’s movement; uneven and ghostly skeins of pigment document her repetitive application of a standard-size brayer across the surface. Dienes placed drawing at the center of her practice while simultaneously challenging traditionally held views about the medium. The eight works and associated ephemera included in this exhibition were produced between 1953 and 1955, the most intensive period of the artist’s process-based experimentation. These drawings had a profound formal, technical, and iconographic impact on a young generation of artists, including Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. While widely exhibited and well–received at the time of its creation, her work has been largely overlooked in recent decades. This exhibition highlights her practice and sheds new light on her legacy.

Curated by Alexis Lowry Murray and Delia Solomons.

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Past Programs