Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence
Text by Josef Helfenstein, Vinay Lal, Emilee Dawn Whitehurst, Eric Wolf, Toby Kamps, Thich Nhat Hanh, Aung San Suu Kyi, and others
This fascinating book introduces and explores the resonance of Gandhi’s (1869–1948) ethics of nonviolence in the visual arts. Taking the form of a reader, the texts range across influences on Gandhian philosophy and outgrowths from it. The accompanying images include Gandhi’s own iconography, photojournalism of related social movements and nonviolent struggles, artworks speaking to violence or issuing from an inner space of peace, and portraits of the Mahatma’s forebears and followers. Experiments with Truth counterpoints art and ideas: religious art of the past, paintings and sculpture from the mid-20th century on, contemporary installations, newly written historical summaries and thematic explorations, reprints of texts by famous peacemakers, and passages in religious texts that inspired Gandhi.
Publisher: The Menil Collection / Yale University Press
Artists: Marlene Dumas, Dan Flavin, Suzan Frecon
Contributors: Josef Helfenstein, Vinay Lal, Emilee Dawn Whitehurst, Eric Wolf, Toby Kamps, Thich Nhat Hanh, Aung San Suu Kyi
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 8 x 10 1/2 in (20.3 x 26.7 cm)
Reproductions: 220 color
Retail: $50 US & Canada | £30 | €38
Widely regarded as one of the most influential painters working today, Marlene Dumas has continuously explored the complex range of human emotions, often probing questions of gender, race, sexuality, and economic inequality. Through her focus on the human figure, Dumas merges socio-political themes with personal experience and art-historical antecedents to create a unique perspective on the most salient and controversial issues facing contemporary society. Her work consistently explores constructions of identity and the fluid distinctions between the public and the private.
From 1963, when he conceived the diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusi), a single gold, fluorescent lamp that is installed on a diagonal on the wall—a work which marks the artist’s first use of fluorescent light alone, until his death in 1996, Dan Flavin (1933-1996) produced a singularly consistent and prodigious body of work that utilized commercially-available fluorescent lamps to create installations, or “situations” as he preferred to call them, of light and color. Through the construction of light, Flavin was able to literally establish and redefine space.
For the past four decades, Suzan Frecon has become known for abstract oil paintings and watercolors that are at once reductive and expressive. Composed with subtle, interacting arrangements of color, which the artist applies with meticulous attention to the physical qualities of her medium, they appear to blur the distinction between matter and transcendence. Color assumes a physical property and almost appears material; as the artist has stated, “The reality and the spiritual of my paintings are the same.
Josef Helfenstein is the director of the Menil Collection in Houston. Prior to that he was the director of the Krannert Museum at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He has written and lectured worldwide on modern and contemporary art, and he has published numerous catalogs, including Louise Bourgeois: The Early Work, Paul Klee Rediscovered, and The Blue Four: Feininger, Jawlensky, Kandinsky, and Klee in the New World.