Museum debuts expanded contemporary collection

A purple and blue sculpture made of plexiglass and a chair.
Sarah Braman, “Coexist,” 2010. Found car part, plexiglass, paint and found chair, 49 × 61 × 55 inches. Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; The John and Sara Shlesinger Collection. GMOA 2019.365. © Sarah Braman Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.

From July 17 to Dec. 5, 2021, the Georgia Museum of Art will share refreshingly modern works of art in the exhibition “Neo-Abstraction: Celebrating a Gift of Contemporary Art from John and Sara Shlesinger.” “Neo-Abstraction” highlights the resurgence of abstract art among contemporary artists, including an early spin painting by Damien Hirst and a photographic abstraction by Walead Beshty. Cutting-edge art like Sarah Braman’s “Coexist,” a striking juxtaposition of commonplace objects, will be on view alongside more familiar approaches to abstraction, like Daniel Hesidence’s colorful canvases of humanoid figures and celestial bodies.

Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, the museum’s curator of American art, describes the show as a way to observe how contemporary artists have redefined abstract art over the past two decades. “The exhibition is an exciting opportunity to show works from the Shlesinger collection for the first time at our museum,” he said. “It features a dynamic and diverse range of artists all oriented around the broader idea of abstraction in the twenty-first century.”

Although the museum received the gift of 110 works of art from the Shlesingers in late 2019, COVID-19 delayed its public debut. Their donation will aid the museum’s vision to advance conventional perceptions of abstract art by presenting new versions of this artistic phenomenon. “Through sculpture, painting, mixed media and photography, the artists in this collection are taking very traditional ideas from the canon of 20th-century art and refashioning them in new and experimental ways,” Richmond-Moll said.

A silkscreen and woodcut image of orange and white circles.

Mika Tajima (American, b. 1975), “At the Door,” 2008. Silkscreen, woodcut, cotton rag, CNC Plexiglas, wood, paint, 30 7/8 × 22 inches. Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; The John and Sara Shlesinger Collection. GMOA 2019.457. © Mika Tajima. Image courtesy the artist, Kayne Griffin Corcoran (Los Angeles), and Taro Nasu (Tokyo).

Related events include:

  • A Family Day To-Go Aug.12-15, as part of which families can pick up free art kits and an activity guide at the museum
  • An Artful Conversation focusing on a work by Mika Tajima on Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.
  • Toddler Tuesday on Aug. 24 at the museum for ages 18 months to 3 years (email to sign up)
  • A talk by artist Daniel Hesidence on Nov. 4 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Student Night on Nov. 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Teen Studio on Nov. 11 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. (email to register)

All events are free and open to the public. Student Night is sponsored by the UGA Parents Leadership Council. Family Day To-Go kits are sponsored by Buddy and Lucy Allen and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.