Thomas Erben is delighted to present Her Bone, a solo exhibition with Philadelphia-based artist Anne Minich (b. 1934, Philadelphia). Bringing together drawings on paper, carved wooden sculptures, and three-dimensional paintings inlaid with found objects and text, this show centres on Minich's fascination with the human body. In particular, it follows the themes of sexual desire, erotic excitement, and pleasure throughout Minich's decades-long career.
This is the first exhibition to bring together a substantial group of drawings from across the artist's practice. Drawing has always played an outsized role in Minich's evolving work, as a source for probing dreamlike visions, developing her own personal mythologies, or paying homage to friends, family, lovers, and artistic inspirations.
Similarly, Minich's paintings are painstakingly made and suffused with a life spent traversing the human body's physical limits and subverting society's normative boundaries. Built by hand and intricately carved, these works are inlaid with found material collected either from Minich's wanderings or were given to her from friends both living and dead. She also uses text as another medium for exploring the figure and articulating humour, intimacy, and memory. Minich's play with language and campy tropes reveals her kinship with Marcel Duchamp. Yet Duchamp is not the only connection to Philadelphia's rich artistic heritage in Minich's work. Her restrained formal vocabulary and concern for detail call to mind Quaker aesthetics and Pennsylvania Dutch craft traditions.
The body has always been at the centre of Minich's practice. Recalling when she first attended summer classes as a high school student at PAFA in 1948, she explains:'I was thrilled at being able to simply stare at naked bodies with a perfectly good excuse to do so. It represented a sense of freedom I'd never experienced. The models had to pose for 25 minutes at a time, no matter what; a model got her period during a pose, had to keep it and then fled when time was called. The sight of the blood flowing down her leg was for me a thrill. Another time an instructor caused a model to have an erection (contained by a jock strap). He kept the pose and then fled when time was called. He returned in 'proper order'; I had no idea what I had just witnessed but knew it was eventful... I've not lost those fascinations and they are continuing to serve me well.'
Minich renders the body with meticulous detail and careful craft, yet with an eye towards the messy and often transgressive possibilities of what it means to live and die in a body. The works presented here reveal the inextricable nature of longing, communion, transformation, decay, and ecstasy.
Press release courtesy Thomas Erben Gallery.