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Mystic Truths
The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths, 1967
Bruce Nauman, American, Born 1941
Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Sperone Westwater, New York
Notations: Out of Words
November 24, 2006 - June 24, 2007

Gathering works of art in which words are conceived not only as communicational tools but also as visual and physical things in themselves, this exhibition highlights objects from the collection from the 1960s to the present—including the recent acquisition, Georges Adéagbo's Abraham—L'ami de Dieu (Abraham—Friend of God). Conceptual works, pieces in which visual and verbal signs are organized around a narrative, and works in which words signify through both their linguistic meaning and their pictorial and material nature are all presented.

From large, cursive, pink neon and thickly stenciled black paint to more intimately scaled printed texts and handwritten notes, the range of mediums in these objects points out the importance of the use of texts in contemporary art. Combining words and images in inventive ways, many of the works on view also call attention to language as a source of power and challenge audiences to renegotiate conventional divisions between the visual and the verbal.

This exhibition takes its title from a partial quotation from Wallace Stevens's poem "Men Made Out of Words."


This project was realized with the generous support of Dennis and Gisela Alter. Additional support was provided by Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz.


Carlos Basualdo • Curator of Contemporary Art
Emily Hage • Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow of Modern and Contemporary Art


Modern and Contemporary Gallery 176, first floor

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