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Penitence Alley, 1989-1991

Higher Pictures Generation presents Penitence Alley, 1989 – 1991, curated by Janice Guy.

In 1989 Barbara Gladstone and Thea Westreich started an artist residency in Rome called The Rome Studio, with Janice Guy at the helm. Located in the Trastevere section of the city on the Vicolo della Penitenza (Penitence Alley) the studio provided artists with a place to live and work freely for two months. When it closed in 1991 it had hosted a total of twelve artists: Michel Auder, Gary Hume, On Kawara, Julian Lethbridge, Reinhard Mucha, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Thomas Struth, Meyer Vaisman, Lawrence Weiner, Franz West, and Christopher Wool—along with artist friends Sarah Charlesworth, Daphne Fitzpatrick, and Sarah Lucas.

The works on view were all made during the residency or shortly thereafter. Rome’s influence is most apparent in Cindy Sherman’s subversions of Italian Old Master portraiture, Thomas Struth’s black-and-white, central-perspective views of the city’s streets, and Reinhard Mucha’s photographic loop through its train stops. Other artists were more subtle: Gary Hume made wall paintings with a local technique in use since the Middle Ages. Richard Prince’s small canvases on view in the exhibition are a prelude to his White Paintings of the 1990s, and Sarah Lucas’ video Sausage Film (1991) initiates the feminist-punk YBA aesthetic.

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