Julie Speed: East of the Sun and West of the Moon
Aug 31, 2019 – Mar 15, 2020
Touring from the El Paso Museum of Art, Julie Speed: East of the Sun and West of the Moon explores the rich artistic production of Marfa, Texas, artist Julie Speed from the past five years, including many recent works previously unseen. Speed’s last museum show before East of the Sun and West of the Moon occurred in 2014 and was limited to works on paper.
Featuring twenty-nine works, the Taubman Museum of Art’s presentation of Julie Speed: East of the Sun and West of the Moon consists of diverse works in the artist’s favorite media of oil, gouache, collage, and combinations thereof. Resident in Texas since 1978 and in Marfa since 2006, the artist forged her own path early on by ending her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design and devoting herself to imaginative figuration coupled with consummate technique. Sometimes described as neo-surrealist, Speed’s art holds affinity with the figurative Surrealism of René Magritte, yet her work offers scenarios that are simultaneously more personal and more complex than Magritte’s visual puns. Her art melds a technical mastery rivaling the Old Masters with motifs created from diverse sources ranging from Renaissance engravings to Japanese woodblock prints. As critic and curator Elizabeth Ferrer has written, “The contemporaneity of her art is rooted in its emphatically open-ended nature.”
Some of the themes examined in the exhibition and the accompanying catalog are Speed’s mixing of structured and spontaneous processes, her unique bridging of painting and collage, her playful dialogue with artistic tradition, and the intention and power of her art to spark myriad imaginings and narratives. The exhibition includes a “Close-Up Room” consisting of a three-channel video-and-sound installation designed by the artist and highlighting the processes and details of her art.