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Phoenix Art Museum Opens LIFELIKE Exhibition Today

Phoenix Art Museum Opens LIFELIKE Exhibition Today

Reality has been defined as the state of things as they actually exist, distinctly different from how they might be imagined. But, as John Lennon once pointed out, reality leaves a lot to the imagination, and never is that more present than in Lifelike, an exhibition of nearly 70 contemporary works that navigate between reality and the most imaginative of illusions. Lifelike, which comes to Phoenix Art Museum from Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minn., will be on view today, February 5 through May 18 in Steele Gallery.

The exhibition includes nearly 70 pieces of unique, contemporary works, from sculpture and installation to paintings and photography created as far back as 1960, with a special focus on the last fifteen years. It features works by seminal, acclaimed artists, such as Ai Weiwei, Susan Collis, Gerard Richter, Chuck Close, Kaz Oshiro, Thomas Demand and Vija Celmins.

"Phoenix Art Museum is honored and excited to bring a collection of international artists of this magnitude to the Valley of the Sun," said the Sybil Harrington Director of Phoenix Art Museum, James K. Ballinger.

But, along with featuring critically acclaimed 20th and 21st century artists, the exhibition also offers a new perspective. "Lifelike explores extraordinary in the ordinary through common objects that are skillfully revisited through handcrafted artistry. We will never see these objects quite the same way again," said Ballinger.

These everyday items become unfamiliar and uncanny as they are recreated. The artists play with scale and media, including an oversized eight-and-a-half-foot-tall bronze milk carton (Jonathan Seliger, Heartland, 2010), a sleeping bag formed from painted bronze (Gavin Turk, Nomad, 2001) and an overstuffed plastic garbage bag carved from marble (Jud Nelson, Hefty 2-Ply, 1979-1981).

What sets these works apart from their everyday counterpart is precise artistry in the construction of each piece. In this day of mass production, these unique objects step away from automated fabrication in favor of meticulous and often carefully disguised handiwork. "The work that goes into each one to create the familiar really creates a special interaction between the artist and the viewer as you study each object to ascertain how it was created, how it mimics what you know, and how it differs," explained Christian Adame, assistant curator of education, who worked on the Phoenix installation of this traveling exhibition. "The skill and uncanny quality draws the viewer in. The conversation is incomplete without us."

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