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Albright-Knox shows off two installations by Joan Jonas

For many artists, the notion of a “complete” work of art is elusive or even false.

Master watercolorist Charles Burchfield, for example, expanded his works over several decades by adding sheets of paper to his canvases. Similarly, multidisciplinary artist Joan Jonas views her art practice as a constant work in progress, in which old pieces become new again through later reflections and transfigurations.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery recently acquired two Jonas works that demonstrate the artist’s unique approach: the 1976 piece “Good Night Good Morning” and a reflection on that piece from 2006 called “My New Theater VI, Good Night Good Morning ‘06.” The gallery will show off its new Jonas pieces in an exhibition opening Saturday and running through May 1.

The 1976 piece, a reflection on the passage of time and the artist’s identity, features a young Jonas looking directly into the camera and wishing it a good morning and good night every day for three weeks. In the more recent piece, set up as a sculptural video installation, an older Jonas re-enacts the same process in a mirror – a commentary both on the ways she’s changed physically and in her art practice.

“This was a minorly seminal acquisition for us because Joan was someone who was really important in the late ’60s and ’70s, one of the most important female artist to emerge then,” said Albright-Knox curator Holly E. Hughes. “She explored the passage of time in a very unique way, by infusing it with self-reflection. What I think is so interesting about her is that she never actually developed installation pieces until she fully realized that idea through performance.

“I think it’s quite magical to see the two of them together and to see really how she has transformed this new work, but also how she’s transformed as an artist herself.”

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– Colin Dabkowski

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