Robert Overby

Luckman Gallery at California State University

March 27, 2004

Robert Overby
What else is important: Paintings 1981-1989

27 March – 08 May 2004

Luckman Gallery 
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8116
Tel. (323) 343-6604
gallery@luckmanfineartscomplex.org

www.luckmanfineartscomplex.org

Curated by Terry R. Myers

Image: Robert Overby, Ducky, 1987,
oil on canvas, 84 x 77 in.

First exhibition to survey the late artist’s paintings from the 1980s

After a decade as a highly successful, award-winning graphic designer, Robert Overby (1935 – 1993) made a decision to “become an artist” in 1969 while putting together a corporate art collection for CBS Studio Center in Studio City, California. Ever since his days as a student at The Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950s where he studied painting, Overby thought of himself as a painter. In the 1970s, he produced an idiosyncratic range of work that included not only paintings, but also latex casts of architectural elements. In 1973 Robert Overby focused his art practice fully on painting, while continuing to take on various design projects, including a logotype for Toyota in 1977 that is still in use today, and the basketball court graphics for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. In the 1980s Overby began to directly incorporate imagery from graphic design into his paintings.
Robert Overby: What else is important, Paintings 1981-1989 features more than nineteen paintings and eleven works on paper from the period that unexpectedly became the “late” phase of Overby’s career. All of the works in this exhibition provoke a contentious dialogue between art and design, a debate that Overby clearly engaged in throughout his entire career. Drawing on sources that include photographs from fashion magazines, catalogs, ads, pornography and illustrations for pocket book covers, Overby’s late paintings have much in common with those of James Rosenquist, David Salle, and most intriguingly with the very recent paintings of Jeff Koons. And while the fragmented imagery of Overby’s late paintings directly relates to his work in design, for him the final result was very different: in his words, “the philosophy doesn’t cross over, but the form does.” If graphic design was for Overby an extremely disciplined and valuable form of problem solving, then painting was always a place to complicate meaning for himself and for viewers by remaining-in his own words-”an observer, even a voyeur, rather than a moralizer.”

In 2000, Overby’s works from the late 1960s and 1970s were posthumously exhibited at the UCLA Hammer Museum in a critically acclaimed survey exhibition titled Robert Overby: Parallel, 1978-1969, also organized by Terry R. Myers. Since this pivotal exhibition, several museums have acquired major works by Overby, including The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Robert Overby: What else is important, Paintings 1981-1989 at the Luckman Gallery will be a significant sequel to the Hammer exhibition, but aims to stand on its own through its focus on the artist’s extraordinary body of late paintings and works on paper, almost all of which have not been publicly exhibited since 1989.
Robert Overby: What else is important, Paintings 1981-1989 is curated by Terry R. Myers, a critic and independent curator who currently is a faculty member at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Royal College of Art in London. A color-illustrated brochure will be published specifically for the exhibition, featuring an essay by Myers and an exhibition checklist.

The opening reception at the Luckman Gallery is Saturday, March 27, 6-8 p.m.

A Curator’s Talk takes place Wednesday, April 7, 6:00 p.m.
Luckman Fine Arts Complex
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8116
Tel. (323) 343-6604

Email: gallery@luckmanfineartscomplex.org www.luckmanfineartscomplex.org

Related Events:

Recent exhibitions related to Robert Overby: What else is important, Paintings 1981-1989 are as follows:
Robert Overby: About When
Haunch of Venison, London
Dates: February 4 – March 20, 2004
Telephone (011) 44 (0) 20 7495 5050 www.haunchofvenison.com
Robert Overby: Black and Blue Binder and Other Works
Fredericks Freiser Gallery, New York
Dates: March 6 – April 3, 2004
Telephone (212) 633-6555 www.fredericksfreisergallery.com
Robert Overby (solo exhibition)
Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles
Dates: TBA
Telephone (323) 933-9911 www.marcselwynfineart.com

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March 27, 2004

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