Online Viewing Room

All Creatures Great and Small

Apr 21 – May 5, 2020
Curated by Michaela Mohrmann, Susan Dunne, and Samanthe Rubell

All Creatures Great and Small presents abstract and figurative art that evokes the marvelous vitality, as well as vulnerability, of our planet’s flora and fauna. Borrowed from a work on view, the exhibition’s title also cites the opening verse of the nineteenth-century hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” which describes the genesis of the world in all its astonishing diversity. Many of the works in the exhibition share a similar sense of wonder and reverence for living creatures, no matter how minute. Ranging from the whimsical to the wistful, they touch upon humankind’s relationship to nature—including as a possible conduit to transcendence and spirituality—and invite viewers to consider the nature of creation, whether biological, artistic, or divine. ​ ​​

Organized into three thematic sections with titles drawn from the blank verse of Mary Oliver, who rhapsodized about the animal kingdom, this exhibition features works by Yto Barrada, Alexander Calder, Harry Callahan, Nigel Cooke, Jean Dubuffet, Emmet Gowin, Peter Hujar, Alex Katz, Richard Misrach, Thomas Nozkowski, Michal Rovner, Raqib Shaw, James Siena, Kiki Smith, Tony Smith, Richard Tuttle, and Fred Wilson.

Kiki Smith, All Creatures Great and Small, 1997, neon, 11-1/2" x 8' 2" x 2-1/2"
Peter Hujar, Rabbit, Westown, 1978, pigmented ink print, 14-3/4" × 14-3/4" (37.5 cm × 37.5 cm), image 20" × 16" (50.8 cm × 40.6 cm), paper

In the Family of Things

Vital to our environment, animals have also long served as the protagonists of our myths and moral tales. In this cosmological capacity, they have oriented humankind, helping us find our place in “a family of things.” Many of the ensuing works capture the quiet dignity of wild creatures as if to erode our anthropocentrism and replace it with kinship. With its perfectly circular eye mirroring the camera’s lens, the rabbit photographed by Peter Hujar returns our gaze with force. Just as powerful, a bird depicted by Kiki Smith appears to momentarily override the bars of its cage with its song. When the human figure appears, as in the work of Nigel Cooke and Jean Dubuffet, it is primal, even feral—of, not separate from, the world of beasts.

Nigel Cooke, Diana, 2017, oil on linen, 10-1/16" × 7-7/8"
Kiki Smith, Sunrise, Sunset, 2016, aluminum, 19-1/4" × 12-3/4" × 7" (48.9 cm × 32.4 cm × 17.8 cm), overall 13" × 12-3/4" × 5/16" (33 cm × 32.4 cm × 0.8 cm), sculpture 9" × 11" × 7" (22.9 cm × 27.9 cm × 17.8 cm), stand
Kiki Smith, Wives and Mistresses, 2019, bronze and white sapphires, 1-1/4" × 7/8" × 2-3/4" (3.2 cm × 2.2 cm × 7 cm) unique
Kiki Smith Polaroid.jpg

Sunrise, Sunset bird and Ursula von Rydingsvard's Hand in Net, a polaroid photo by Kiki Smith of her home © Kiki Smith, 2020


Kiki Smith © 2020 Katharina Poblotzki

Kiki Smith, Milky way, 2011, Murrini with push pin, glass and plastic glitter, gold leaf and ink on Nepalese paper mounted on canvas, 72" x 76"

Click to hear curator Michaela Mohrmann discuss Kiki Smith's Milky Way.

Kiki Smith, Call, 2009, ink, mica and glitter on Nepalese paper, 30" x 20", 33" x 23" x 1-1/2", frame

Kiki Smith, Call (detail), 2009, ink, mica and glitter on Nepalese paper, 30" x 20" (76.2 cm x 50.8 cm), 33" x 23" x 1-1/2", frame

Alexander Calder, Walking Elephant, 1925, watercolor on paper, 13-3/4" x 13-1/2" © 2020 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Alexander Calder, Untitled, c. 1942, brass wire and string, 15-3/8" × 9-1/2" × 10-1/2" © 2020 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Jean Dubuffet, Celebrator (Kraft), 1973, screenprint, 30" x 22", 32" x 24" x 1-5/8", frame, Edition of 10
Tony Smith, Seed, 1968, steel, painted black, 4' × 5' × 8' 10"

A Box Full of Darkness

In Mary Oliver’s poem “The Uses of Sorrow,” sadness is “a box full of darkness" as well as a “gift” to be cherished. Likewise, the works in this section muddle stark dualities, such as good and evil, life and death, or insider and outsider, by referencing the complexity of nature. The somber hue and austere geometry of Tony Smith’s sculpture is at odds with its title, Seed, which conjures a pattern of organic, verdant growth antithetical to Minimalism. In the paintings of Thomas Nozkowski and Alex Katz, color is on the verge of overtaking darkness, while Michal Rovner finds historical clarity by joining the nighttime world of jackals, symbols for pariahs since biblical times.

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.​​ It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.

Mary Oliver, The Uses of Sorrow
In celebration of National Poetry Month, we invite you to learn more about poet Mary Oliver by visiting the (opens in a new window) Poetry Foundation.

Emmet Gowin, Nuclear Test Craters on Yucca Flat, Area 10, Nevada Test Site, 1996, toned gelatin silver print, 13-7/8" × 13-3/4", image 20" × 16", paper 24-1/8" × 21-1/4" × 1-1/8", frame
“[A] void boundless as the nether sky appeared beneath us, and we...hung over this immensity; but I said: if you please we will commit ourselves to this void and see whether providence is here also.”

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell  

Responding to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Gowin states, “I like that Blake equates evil with energy and exuberance, with life and places the human task as the reconciliation of these two opposites,” a sentiment manifest in his pictures of landscapes decimated by nuclear bomb testing.

Fred Wilson, Why?, 2018, blown glass, 18-1/2" × 7-1/2" × 3"
"Glass is always a liquid. It never completely solidifies. Even though it looks like it’s solid, it’s actually still moving. And so making it in these drip forms made inherent sense for the material. And I wanted to use black glass, because it represents ink, it represents oil, it represents tar."

Fred Wilson ​

Alex Katz, Twilight 2, 2007, oil on board, 12" x 9"

Alex Katz in his studio in Lincolnville, Maine, 1996, photography by Vivien Bittencourt © Alex Katz​

"The farther North you get the less white light you get, the more color. And I thought the color around here is really just marvelous. And that was a big reason for coming here."

Alex Katz on his Maine studio  

Thomas Nozkowski, Untitled (L-50), 2014, oil on paper, 22" x 30", 29-1/2" x 37-1/2" x 1-1/2", frame
"Tom would tell you of his inspirations from nature, which I never once understood. Whatever story he was pleased to believe sailed over my head. All I could know is that it issued in something amazing to look at."

Peter Schjeldahl ​

Michal Rovner, Night - 17, 2016, archival pigment print, 28-13/16" × 43-5/16", 30" x 44-1/2" x 2", frame, Edition of 7 + 2 APs
Jean Dubuffet, Paysage avec 2 personnages, May 8, 1980, black ink on paper with collage, 13-3/4 x 10", 20-1/2" x 16-5/8" x 1-5/8", frame
"Personally, I believe very much in values of savagery; I mean: instinct, passion, mood, violence, madness."

Jean Dubuffet​

Harry Callahan, Ivy Tentacles on Glass, Chicago, c. 1952, gelatin silver print, image, 7 5/8" x 9 1/2", paper, 8" x 10", frame, 14" x 17" x 1"

Full of Gorgeous Life

Through an emphasis on variety, the multiplication of minute details, and fields of luminous color, the following works convey the plenitude and vitality of nature. Works by James Siena, Harry Callahan, and Richard Tuttle teem with botanical forms that appear ready to transcend their borders. Expansiveness is also suggested through color in works by Alex Katz and Richard Misrach, conveying an uplifting sense of possibility.   ​


Harry Callahan, Ivy Tentacles on Glass, Chicago (detail), c. 1952, gelatin silver print, image, 7-5/8" x 9-1/2" paper, 8" x 10"

James Siena, Kinked Loop, 2009-2010, graphite and ink on paper, 8" x 6-1/4",14-1/8 x 12-3/16 x 1", frame
Emmet Gowin, Index 35, October 2010, Bolivia, 2010, digital inkjet print, 14" × 8-5/8", image, 19" × 13", paper
Yto Barrada, Red Palm, 2016, steel structure with galvanised sheet metal and coloured electrical bulbs, media player, sound bar, electrical wiring and Oak Base, 79-15/16" × 52-3/4" × 26-3/8", Edition of 3 + 1 AP
Raqib Shaw, Kyoto Summer Song, 2018, acrylic, graphite, and enamel on paper, 15-3/8" × 14-9/16", 17-13/16" × 17", frame

Click to hear curator Michaela Mohrmann discuss Yto Barrada's Red Palm.

Click to hear Raqib Shaw discuss his work Kyoto Summer Song.

Richard Tuttle, Hello, the Roses 10, 2011-2012, wood, rope, insulation foam, tissue paper, paper, 36-1/16" x 14-9/16" x 7-7/8"
Alex Katz, Two Boats #2, 2002, oil on board, 10-1/4" x 11-3/4"
Richard Misrach, Untitled (Acrobat Super Grid #3), 2012, pigment print mounted to Dibond, 59" × 79-1/4", image, paper and mount, 63" × 82-1/2" × 3", frame, Edition of 5 + 1 AP
To inquire about any of the artists or works featured in this exhibition, please email inquiries@pacegallery.com.
  • Past, All Creatures Great and Small, Apr 21, 2020