This exhibition examined how geometric structures and abstract visual vocabularies have communicated meaning throughout the visual history of humankind. In the modern era, these forms served as vehicles for revolutionary distillations of form and narrative and as the foundations for conceptual and social models of new societal values.
The exhibition included paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, ceramics, and utensils from historic and contemporary cultures, all drawn from the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art by guest curator Lowery Stokes Sims, president of the Studio Museum in Harlem.
The installation presented the objects without the usual hierarchical positioning that prejudices high art over decoration or Western over tribal or primitive, reflecting the emergence of diversity and multiculturalism as prominent theoretical modes over the last three decades. By repatterning the usual methods of organizing ideas about art, the exhibition allowed the viewer to recognize the centrality of cultures considered peripheral, and how cultures influence and transform each other.
In this collaboration between the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Sims assumed a contemporary perspective to discover atypical connections among the artworks of an encyclopedic fine arts institution and present them in the loft-like galleries of a non-collecting contemporary art museum.