April 8, 2004
UC San Diego's University Art
Eleanor Antin's The Last Days Of
Antin, a pioneering conceptual artist and University of California,
San Diego Emeritus Faculty, will exhibit a series of 12 large-scale
color photographs titled The Last Days of Pompeii at the UC
San Diego’s University Art Gallery from Apr. 17 – June 12, 2004. A
reception for the artist will be held Apr. 16 from 6 to 7 p.m., and
Antin will lead a walk-through of the exhibition at 5:30 p.m.
Reservations are required for the walk-through, please call (858)
534 – 2107 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For over 30 years, Antin
has engaged in a dialogue with history. She has made a career of
storytelling in films, photographs and performances, and her feminist-themed
work has made her one of the doyennes of the art world.
Antin’s The Last Days
of Pompeii evokes narratives of a sensually decadent Roman
Empire. Described by Art in America critic Eleanor Heartney
as a “playful homage both to the extravagances of 19th century salon
paintings (like Thomas Couture’s Romans of the Decadence)
and to the Hollywood costume dramas inspired by the story of Rome in
decline,” Antin’s photographs are beautiful and elaborately staged.
In her imagined Pompeii,
gladiators fight to the death at a sumptuous banquet, a young girl
languorously bathes in a garden pool spied on by gray haired
senators, the writer Petronious celebrates his suicide with an orgy
of friends and lovers, and greedy aristocrats revel in and then are
asphyxiated by piles of golden coins. The resulting series of
chromogenic prints are both luscious in their visceral appeal and
beguiling for their multiple levels of interpretation.
unfolding drama, one young woman in white watches from the
periphery. One suspects, like the cursed prophetess Cassandra, she
is aware of impending doom, but remains powerless because no one
believes her story. Giving us a slice of history preserved in time,
Antin presents a self-indulgent, self-absorbed society ignoring the
warnings of imminent catastrophy. But she leaves explicit
contemporary parallels (to current political and environmental
situations) to the viewer’s imagination.
With the local San Diego
area as the backdrop, Antin transformed parts of the UCSD campus and
the Rancho Santa Fe home of fellow faculty member, Marianne
McDonald, into a Roman villa. Antin, who lives in Del Mar, enlisted
the participation of fellow UCSD faculty colleagues Sheldon Nodelman
(Solana Beach), Newton Harrison (Del Mar) and Bennett Berger (La
Jolla) as actors in her production. Well-known artist’s models from
the area, along with students from UCSD’s theatre and visual arts
departments, joined the visual spectacle as actors and set
In an effort to shed light
on her process, Antin will also screen rough video footage shot
during the making of The Last Days of Pompeii and a feature
on her work produced by Art:21 Art in the Twenty-First
Century, which was broadcast nationally on PBS last
While Antin’s work
continues to be shown widely in Los Angeles, New York and Europe,
this exhibition represents the first time her work will be exhibited
in her hometown since a 1977 exhibition at the La Jolla Museum of
Art (now known as the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego).
The focus of a 1999
retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Antin was the
recipient of the International Art Critics Association (AICA) Best
Show Award for her LACMA retrospective and The Last Days of
Pompeii in 2001. In addition, Antin has received a National
Foundation for Jewish Culture Media Achievement Award; a Guggenheim
fellowship, an NEA Individual Artist Grant and numerous other
awards. Her work is in the collections of the Jewish Museum, The
Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New
York; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of
Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of
Contemporary Art San Diego, among others.
For more information about
The Last Days of Pompeii or UCSD’s University Art Gallery,
call (858) 534 – 2107, email email@example.com or visit us at http://www.universityartgallery.ucsd.edu/.
For more information about the work of Eleanor Antin, go to http://www.feldmangallery.com/.
Contact: Patricia Quill, (858)