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David Humphrey in the Columbia University School for the Arts


Mentor David Humphrey is in a solo exhibition of new paintings, Arms of the Law, which takes the police as its principle subject. This will be Humphrey’s fifth solo exhibition at Fredericks & Freiser.

The exhibition includes viewpoints such as confrontations between protesters and armed law enforcement officers. Humphrey applies his “wide-ranging genre-mixing (abstraction, pop-surrealism and photo-derived representation) to the paradoxical challenge of making works with authority and power committed to questioning authority and power,” as stated in the press release. 

Fredericks & Freiser writes, “authority’s gesture, the task of the violence worker (police), is to neutralize agency, to stop a person in their tracks; to arrest their ability to move. The cop’s task is to produce and distribute violence in the name of order; but the disorder that results often serves authority’s purpose just as well by “proving” the necessity for increased state violence. What kind of power can a painted image have? Like the police, a painting arrests motion, but in the service of poetic freedom. The application of an abstracting, formalized artifice can produce both a reflective distance for the viewer and an intense embodied presence that challenges detachment. A space is provided for sustained associative regard and a charged urgency. Some of these works fuse militarized police with neutralized citizens into a monstrous hybrid, a dynamic liquid whole in a space littered with trash and painterly affect.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a 290 page monograph by Davy Lauterbach. The monograph blends figuration and abstraction, pop and expressionism. It surveys the totality of the artist’s 40-year career. 

Humphrey (b. 1955) has been the subject of 44 solo exhibitions including McKee Gallery, NY; Sikkema Jenkins, NY; Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Miami; and Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati. Most recently, he is currently in the exhibition Good Pictures, Curated by Austin Lee at Deitch Projects. His work is in the collections of several museums and public collections including Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston as well as the Saatchi Gallery, London. He was awarded the Rome Prize in 2008. 

Arms of the Law is open from November 12 – December 19, 2020 for individual viewing by private appointment only by contacting the gallery.