September 6, 2015 - RISD Museum - Manual, issue 5: Unfinished
September 6, 2015

Manual, issue 5: Unfinished

Robert Hills, A Study of Trees Through a Vignette, first quarter of the 19th century. Anonymous gift. Courtesy of RISD Museum, Providence, RI.

Manual, issue 5: Unfinished
Fall 2015

RISD Museum
224 Benefit Street
Providence, RI 02903

T +401 454 6500

Loose threads unknotted; ideas unrealized; outlines left bare; function unperformed; patterns uncut; luster removed with time and wear. We rarely examine unfinished things; the unfinished is easily overlooked in favor of the fully rendered and complete. But consider those sketchy lines, those fraying ends: one finds that the unfinished has potency, offers evidence of process, reveals traces of technique, and trembles with latent possibility. 

With such capacity, why is the unfinished so often neglected today? Perhaps because the unfinished bears a kind of liminal status, suspended between conceptualized and wholly realized. In this way, unfinished things can be challenging to define, categorize, and interpret. The essays, images, and projects presented in the fifth issue of Manual attend to the fluid potential of objects that are in some way incomplete.

From the Files: Curatorial assistant A. Will Brown discusses Richard Long’s instructions for Mountainside Ellipse

Double Takes: Curator Laurie Brewer and artist Jean Blackburn shed some light on the shadowy figures in Von Kobell’s Woman in the Window; curator Maureen C. O’Brien and artist Dennis Congdon consider an Ingres study in three parts; curator Jan Howard and poet C.D. Wright talk about Fiona Banner’s Shy Nude behind her back. 

Object Lessons: RISD professor Bolaji Campbell discusses the aesthetics, meaning, and interrupted function of a Pende mask; curator Emily J. Peters studies Gossaert’s unfinished Adam and Eve; Gina Borromeo, curator of ancient art, recovers the identity of an incomplete Roman portrait bust from the 1st century CE.

Portfolio: Jotted down, in-process, left off, worn out. 

How To: Curator Kate Irvin discusses a group of unrealized dresses from the 1920s. 

Artists on Art: Jen Bervin sews an excerpt from the opal seas; Jeremy Deller imagines an Iggy Pop life drawing class; Siebren Versteeg makes a declaration about never finishing school. 

To purchase Manual, visit

Manual: a journal about art and its making, a twice-yearly publication, uses the collections, exhibitions, and collaborations of the RISD Museum as an impetus for essays and interviews, artist interventions, and archive highlights. A fusion of academic arts journal and design magazine, Manual is a resource for engaged conversations about art, design, and the impact of creative making by curators, artists, scholars, and educators. 

Issue 5: Unfinished is supported in part from a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional generous support is provided by the RISD Museum Associates and Sotheby’s.

RISD Museum Director: John Smith
Manual Editor-in-chief: Sarah Ganz Blythe with S. Hollis Mickey
Editor: Amy Pickworth
Art Director: Derek Schusterbauer
Graphic Designer: Brendan Campbell
Photographer: Erik Gould
ISSN 2329-9193

About the RISD Museum
Southeastern New England’s only comprehensive art museum, the Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design—also known as the RISD Museum—was established in 1877. Its collection of nearly 100,000 objects includes paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, costume, furniture, and other works of art and design from all over the world, from ancient times to the latest in contemporary art.

RISD Museum
Share - Manual, issue 5: Unfinished
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York