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Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde highlights Philadelphia’s significant contributions to visual, literary, and musical culture between 1956 and 1976. An interdisciplinary exploration that is centered at University of the Arts, Invisible City features key works by the period’s major architects, photographers, sculptors, designers, painters and conceptual artists. The exhibition is organized by University of the Arts and curated by Sid Sachs, chief curator and director of exhibitions at University of the Arts with Jennie Hirsh, assistant curator, professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at MICA. Support for the research, development, and presentation of Invisible City has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde
January 21- April 4, 2020
Opening Reception, January 30, 5-7pm

On view across four venues

Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde highlights Philadelphia’s significant contributions to visual, literary, and musical culture between 1956 and 1976. An interdisciplinary exploration that is centered at University of the Arts across three venues––Rosenwald–Wolf Gallery, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and Gershman Hall––as well as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the project invites audiences to envision Philadelphia as “a city of firsts,” whose accomplishments include the first Pop Art exhibitions, innovations in architecture and urban planning, the country’s first rock music and The Philly Sound, and a substantial post-war growth of art schools.

Invisible City features key works by major architects, photographers, sculptors, designers, painters, and conceptual artists of the period, such as Denise Scott Brown, Rafael Ferrer, Ray Metzker, Ree Morton, Italo Scanga, and Robert Venturi. Moreover, the exhibition is enriched by ephemeral pieces such as posters, pamphlets, and films. In examining the history of performance art in the region, Alex Da Corte creatively re-invents Allan Kaprow’s important happening Chicken at Gershman Hall, where it was originally performed in 1962.

We invite you to join us in celebrating this city and the legacy of its creative practitioners as you explore the works in Invisible City. The exhibition is organized by University of the Arts and curated by Sid Sachs, Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions at University of the Arts with Jennie Hirsh, Assistant Curator, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at MICA. Support for the research, development, and presentation of Invisible City has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

What to Expect at Each Location

Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at University of the Arts
The Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery offers some of the highlights of Invisible City, presenting major works of post-minimal sculpture by Rafael Ferrer and Italo Scanga, who taught a generation of young artists in the 1960s at the Philadelphia College of Art and Tyler School of Art, respectively. Early narrative photographic works by Bill Beckley, a post-minimal installation by Joan Watson, conceptual installations by William Anastasi and Hans Haacke share the space with pictorial wall-mounted sculptures by Bill Walton and Charles Fahlen. Frank Bramblett's beautiful process paintings and Bill Richards's more austere painted panel round out the gallery.

Philadelphia Art Alliance at University of the Arts
Spread out across seven galleries at the Philadelphia Art Alliance at University of the Arts, the more than 50 works at this venue comprise painting, sculpture, photography, textile works and architectural drawings as well as models. The first-floor galleries include conceptual works by Dennis Adams along with sculptures by the Philadelphia Wireman, lamps by Harry Anderson, furniture by Wharton Esherick and George Nakashima, and a monumental colorfield painting by Natvar Bhavsar. The second floor offers a rich snapshot of the Philadelphia school of architecture rooted at the University of Pennsylvania with works by Louis I. Kahn, Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour as well as the firms of Mitchell/Giurgola and Friday Architects, and the engineer Robert Le Ricolais. Experimental as well as more traditional photography is exemplified by contributions by Paul Cava, André Haluska, Will Brown, Kocot and Hatton, Will Larson, David Lebe, Lyn Mandelbaum, Ray K. Metzker and Deborah Willis. Works by Edna Andrade, Piero Dorazio, Louise Fishman, James Havard, Brice Marden, Warren Rohrer and David Stephens offer an alternative view of abstraction that challenges prevailing notions of Philadelphia painting.

Gershman Hall at University of the Arts
The displays on view at Gershman Hall range from original event posters and flyers to period magazines, photographs, and books connected to historical events hosted by the Y Arts Council at the YMHA/YWHA (now Gershman Hall) and Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) as well as the city’s 1976 bicentennial celebration. Highlights of the ephemera include issues of Avalanche Magazine and Yarrowstalks, graphic posters designed by Sam Maitin and Jim McWilliams, publications from Middle Earth Books and materials connected to Allan Kaprow’s 1962 happening Chicken, slated to be reinvented by UArts alumnus Alex Da Corte on March 5, 2020 in the Elaine C. Levitt Auditorium at University of the Arts (the site of its first iteration).

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
The portion of Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde housed in a second-floor gallery in the Furness Building of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts features key artworks by Judith Bernstein, Cynthia Carlson, Catherine Jansen, Ree Morton, Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Hannah Wilke, six artists whose post-minimal works challenged the form of modernist narrative through an assertive, feminist perspective on the male-dominated discourse of the period. 

Invisible City Research

This interactive website consists of transcribed oral histories of vital participants in Philadelphia’s avant-garde community of the 1960s and 1970s with videos, images and an extensive chronology.

Explore

The exhibition will be on view at three University of the Arts venues–Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, the Art Alliance and Gershman Hall–as well as in a historic gallery at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Locations and Open Hours:

Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery
Anderson Hall
333 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Monday–Friday:10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Saturday: 12–5 p.m.
Gershman Hall
Lobby
401 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Monday–Friday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Saturday: 12–5 p.m.
Art Alliance
251 S. 18th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Tuesday–Friday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.*
Saturday: 12–5 p.m.
*8 p.m. on Thursdays

 

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Historic Landmark Building
118-128 N. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Tuesday–Friday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday: 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde celebrated its opening on Jan. 30th at the Art Alliance. The opening included a reception, followed by a performance highlighting three of Philadelphia's major composers: the renowned musicians Sue Ann Kahn (flute), Chris Finckel (cello) and Andrew Willis (piano). 
 

Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

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