January 20–March 12, 2016


Open This End features both iconic and lesser-known works from some of the most significant artists of the last 50 years. The title, from a 1962 Warhol painting included in the show, suggests that the exhibition is a present to be unwrapped, a surprise that audiences will delight in discovering.


The painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, photography, video, installation and mixed media of more than 30 artists is employed by the exhibition to present several different narratives in the history of art from the 1960s to the present. (All artists referenced here are in the show.) One narrative starts with the Pop Art of Warhol and Ed Ruscha and includes Conceptual Art (by Ruscha, John Baldessari and Bruce Nauman) and Minimalism (by Agnes Martin and Tony Smith). This narrative gave rise to the Pictures Generation art of Cindy Sherman, Louise Lawler and Sherrie Levine, as well as to later practices, such as those of Rita McBride, Bruce Helander and Christopher Williams. The German variant of Pop Art put forth by Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke may be seen as a forerunner to the paintings of Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen and Marlene Dumas. The body-oriented performance art of Vito Acconci and Paul McCarthy finds echoes not only in McCarthy's later work, but also in the psychologically inflected art of Mike Kelley and Martin Kersels.

Beginning in the 1990s, artists focused on the personal as political, by drawing on the same legacies from the 1960s and '70s, as well as the work of other artists such as David Hammons. The work of Glenn Ligon, Mark Bradford, Paul Pfeiffer, Kehinde Wiley and Wangechi Mutu touches upon issues of race, culture and identity, while the art of Felix Gonzalez-Torres addresses sexuality, loss and the vulnerable queer body in the age of AIDS. Figurative sculptors such as Juan Muñoz, Thomas Houseago and Matthew Monahan also picture the body, subject to various deformations, both artistic and psychological.

Lorraine Wild at Green Dragon Office, who is a 2006 AIGA Gold Medal winner, designed the exhibition's 120-page catalogue. 

About The Skylark Foundation
Based in Los Angeles, The Skylark Foundation is committed to encouraging innovation, striving for social justice and supporting diversity. From 2013 to 2017, The Skylark Foundation’s focus is the exhibition Open This End.

About Blake Byrne
Blake Byrne has been listed as a top 200 art collector by Art News. In celebration of his 80th birthday, Open This End is being exhibited at the schools that he and his family have attended. The show has traveled to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and to Urban Arts Space at Ohio State University. After the exhibition closes at The Wallach Art Gallery—where it is presented in conjunction with the Centennial Celebrations of Columbia Business School—it will travel to its last stop, the Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.  A goal of the exhibition is to inspire others to share their art collections for educational purposes and start an ongoing dialogue about art collecting, philanthropy and ethics.

Blake Byrne received a bachelor of arts degree from Duke in 1957 and an MBA from Columbia Business School in 1961. He spent 35 years in television broadcasting beginning at CBS in New York. In 1995, he founded The Skylark Foundation, a philanthropic family foundation. He has been a trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles since 1999, and is a chair emeritus of Duke’s Nasher Museum.

Installation view of the exhibtion Open This End, Wallach Art Gallery. January - March 2016. Photograph by Gerald Sampson.

Past Exhibition

Curated By

Joseph R. Wolin


Organized and sponsored by the Skylark Foundation

...the exhibition is a present to be unwrapped, a surprise that audiences will delight in discovering.


Open This End - Exhibition Catalogue Cover

Open This End: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Blake Byrne

The exhibition catalogue for Open This End features selections of both iconic and lesser-known works from some of the most significant artists of the last 50 years.

Open This End | Exhibition Catalogue
Next Exhibition
March 26–April 9, 2016

2016 First-Year MFA Exhibition