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Curated Group

Curatorial Justification – Danielle Dean, “Long Low Line (Fordland)”

Curated by Christopher Ankney

Group Details:

Danielle Dean’s 2019 work “Long Low Line (Fordland)” is proposed as a 2024 acquisition for UMMA’s Director’s Acquisition Committee to consider. This group offers selections from UMMA’s collection that have resonant themes and topics with Dean’s work.

Curatorial Justification

Additional works from the collection that resonate with Dean’s Long Low Line (Fordland) include Doug Webb’s screenprint American Dream (1986), which likewise elicits contradictions inherent in American ideals of life and liberty. The artwork depicts a group of white men sailing—ironically, in the bowl of a large bathroom sink staged in the middle of a desert—with an American flag majestically mounted to the boat’s stern. Set into a productive conversation with Dean’s work, Webb’s image presents an absurdist view of American leisure pursuits with a suggestion of the environmental damage potentially accompanying them and at the hands of the ruling elite.

Dean’s work also highlights Pop Art works strongly represented in UMMA’s collection by such renowned artists as Roy Lichtenstein, Eduardo Paolozzi, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol. Like these artists, Dean incorporates visual and material culture from everyday life as both the medium and subject matter of her artwork. Moreover, Dean’s work carries forward the critical and humorous qualities of historical Pop Art in ways that examine complex economic and social power structures undergirding American life.

Dean’s work also gestures toward a history of landscape painting and photography robustly represented in UMMA’s collection by 19th-century artists such as Asher B. Durand and Ansel Adams. Long Low Line (Fordland) offers an opportunity to reconsider these more traditional and idealized portrayals of American landscapes by posing questions about how these compositions may simultaneously convey and reinforce existing perceptions about the land, as well as how such learned perceptions may, in turn, influence the physical construction and consumption of the built environment. In addition, by raising awareness about the social and ecological dimensions of corporate land use and development, Dean’s work bears strong relationships to recent UMMA exhibitions such as Watershed (2022), curated by Jennifer Friess, as well as other exhibitions such as Nature’s Nation: American Art and the Environment (2018–19), presented by the Princeton University Art Museum and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

The acquisition of a video work represents an intentional expansion of UMMA’s modest holdings in digital and time-based media. Other recent acquisitions include video installations by artists such as Zina Saro-Wiwa (DAC 2020) and Andrea Carlson and Rozalinda Borcilǎ. Video represents a major aspect of art since the 1960s, and strengthening UMMA’s holdings in this area will expand our capacity to provide a well-rounded presentation of global modern and contemporary art. Further, many contemporary artists have eschewed medium-based models in favor of interdisciplinary approaches. As an animation, Dean’s video is an excellent example of this tendency, since the work extends sources in photography, print media, and watercolor—made across both analog and digital mediums—into a time-based format.

Doug Webb
screenprint on paper
Roy Lichtenstein
screenprint on mylar
1965 - 1970
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi ; Richard Davis; Editions Alecto
photolithograph on paper
Robert Rauschenberg; Detroit Institute of Arts; Litho/Color
lithograph on mylar
Andy Warhol
screenprint on paper
Andy Warhol
screenprint on paper
19th century
Asher B. Durand
oil on canvas
1942; printed 1981
Ansel Adams
gelatin silver print on paper
Zina Saro-Wiwa
digital video