February 18, 2014 - Santa Barbara Museum of Art - Alice Aycock
February 18, 2014

Alice Aycock

Alice Aycock, Timescape #5 Over the Landscape of the Pacific Ocean from the series “Sum Over Histories,” 2011. Inkjet print and hand-painted watercolor on paper, 47 x 64 inches. Collection: Denver Art Museum, Gift of the Eleanor and Henry Hitchcock Foundation.

Alice Aycock Drawings: Some Stories Are Worth Repeating

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

January 26–April 20, 2014

Art, Design & Architecture Museum, UC Santa Barbara 
January 25–April 19, 2014

Santa Barbara Museum of Art
1130 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm, 
Thursday 11am–8pm

T +1 805 963 4364


For over 40 years, Alice Aycock has created art that explores the areas between fantasy and science, the psychological and the visceral.  Although recognized primarily for large-scale installations and outdoor sculptures, the artist has utilized drawing as the experimental laboratory where she develops her complex, three-dimensional work. Alice Aycock Drawings: Some Stories are Worth Repeating is the first comprehensive survey of this most vital aspect of the artist’s creative process.

A vast range of sources inform Aycock’s work, including childhood tales, scientific research, theatre, science fiction, and various cultural phenomena. The vocabularies utilized in her drawings mirror the artist’s multivalent trajectories of thought, resulting in works that demonstrate conceptual clarity and depth. Her drawings also anticipate the use of systems-based drawing by younger artists, calling attention to such practice as an increasingly important venue for cultural speculation.

Divided into two parts, the exhibition is presented by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) and the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Art, Design & Architecture Museum (AD&A Museum).  SBMA’s presentation features works from the mid-1980s to the present, a period in which the artist developed an increasingly elaborate visual vocabulary, drawing upon a multitude of sources and facilitated in part by the use of computer programs. The AD&A Museum’s presentation focuses on works produced from 1971 to 1984, including detailed architectural drawings, sculptural maquettes, and photo documentation for both realized and imagined architectural projects.

Art, Design & Architecture Museum, UC Santa Barbara: early work
Aycock’s earliest drawings were produced for imaginary projects in the early 1970s as she simultaneously began creating site-specific structures on an architectural scale. The drawings in the AD&A Museum installation range from purely conceptual schemes to detailed plans for fully realized monumental installations. As in her site-specific constructions, the early drawings from this period depict imagined architectural constructions designed to choreograph the viewer through a variety of psychological sensations. In the late 1970s, language began to figure prominently in Aycock’s work in the form of increasingly elaborate and allusive titles and narratives, including contemporary and obsolete science, philosophies and belief systems, archeology, literature, and clinical psychology texts. During the early 1980s, Aycock’s interest in machinery and mechanics—cross-bred with imaginary science—intensified. Several of these maquettes are featured in the exhibition.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art: later works
Language and architecture have continued to inform Aycock’s drawings in imaginative ways. Many of the works on display at SBMA demonstrate this by combining architectural forms with Egyptian hieroglyphics, Mesopotamian cuneiform, Native American pictographs, and Chinese and Sanskrit characters. Board games are another source of inspiration for the artist. Beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Aycock’s built projects and drawings achieved new complexity with the use of computer graphics programs, which continue to enable her to quickly view forms from multiple perspectives, create mathematically perfect curves, generate precise construction drawings, and reduce and enlarge at will. Such works include a recent inkjet print From the Series Entitled “Sum Over Histories”: Timescape #5 Over the Landscape of the Pacific Ocean (2011), as Aycock appropriates a topographic rendering of the Pacific Ocean floor from an old exhibition catalogue by scanning and distorting it into a flat sheet floating in space; then superimposing whirlwinds and spinning tops, ribbon-like pathways doubling back and wrapping around themselves.

About the artist
Alice Aycock studied at Douglass College and Hunter College and emerged in New York in the 1970s. She has had a profound effect on succeeding generations of artists, both through her work and through teaching at various institutions, including the School of Visual Arts in New York, where she has taught since 1991. Aycock’s work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Parrish Art Museum, among many others. She has exhibited at galleries and museums throughout the world, and her permanent works of public art are on display at locations throughout the United States. She is currently working on one of her biggest projects to date, Park Avenue Paper Chase: a series of six large-scale sculptures to be sited on Park Avenue (between 52nd and 57th Streets) in Manhattan (spring 2014).

Alice Aycock Drawings: Some Stories Are Worth Repeating was organized by the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York. It was presented there and at the Grey Art Gallery, New York University in spring 2013. The exhibition is curated by Jonathan Fineberg, Gutgsell Professor of Art History Emeritus at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, published by the Parrish Art Museum and distributed by Yale University Press.

Alice Aycock at Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
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