Rules & Repetition

Conceptual Art at the Wadsworth Atheneum

October 26, 2023 – February 18, 2024

Despite its often-cool appearance, conceptual art was made by real people with urgent concerns about  their world and the role that art can and should play within it. Drawn from the Wadsworth’s permanent collection, Rules & Repetition features artists who developed and embraced serial repetition, instruction-based artmaking, and other key conceptualist strategies. Taken as a whole, the works in the exhibition suggest how our experiences are shaped by structures and systems, celebrating the ability of art to help us understand how we relate to the world in new ways.  

Through our MATRIX program, the first contemporary art exhibition series of its kind, visionary curators like Andrea Miller-Keller, and the support from Hartford-native Sol LeWitt and other artists and benefactors, the Wadsworth has a long history of showing challenging, idea-driven art. Rules & Repetition presents iconic collection works by pioneering conceptual artists of the 1960s and ‘70s alongside more recent acquisitions by artists who adopted their strategies to address concerns of identity, environment, and politics.  

Related Programs

October 26, 2023 | Member Morning Preview
November 4, 2023 | Curator Talk with Jared Quinton

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Performance: (Hartford) Memory Space

Drop in as regional musicians create a sound map of our city throughout the galleries with a special recreation of the 1970 musical composition (Hartford) Memory Space by Alvin Lucier (1931–2021), one of the most influential American composers of the last hundred years, best known for his works that explore the properties of sound and how we perceive them. (Hartford) Memory Space premiered at Hartford Art School, inviting musicians to recreate the sounds they heard while out in the city. Free with admission.

Performances by Joan La Barbara, The Daxophone Consort (Daniel Fishkin, Cleek Schrey, and Ron Shalom), Tongue Depressor (Henry Birdsey and Zach Rowden), Trevor Saint, Ronald Kuivila, Emerson Jenisch, and Sam Boston.

Presented in partnership with Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and Hartford Art School at University of Hartford with support from the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation Fund at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of The Wadsworth Exhibition Fund, supported by the Estates of James Lyon, Karen Kelleher, and Susannah Schickman.

Byron Kim (American, born 1961), Emmett at Twelve Months, 1994. Egg tempera on wood panels. The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1994.34.1. © Byron Kim, 2023. Courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York.