Left Behind: Selected Gifts from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection
(June 16-October 2, 2011)
Left Behind: Selected Gifts from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection features photographs of unpopulated architectural spaces as metaphors for social conditions and psychological states. This 90th anniversary installation celebrates the couples patronage and support of the Phillips and the museums growing collection of modern and contemporary photography.
Left Behind brings together works by emerging and established international artists who share an interest in the investigation of place: private (Darren Almond); urban (Frank Thiel, Massimo Vitali, and Catherine Yass); and social (Thomas Demand, Vesna Pavlović, Nicola Pellegrini, and Jane and Louise Wilson). Despite their diverse approaches, the works share an aesthetic of transience. They depict what is left behind, the empty spaces in which human presence is not evident but implied. Convincingly real yet strangely artificial, the images evoke ambiguities between people and the spaces they inhabit, triggering memories of the past but also possibilities for the future.
While certain images are disquieting, revealing uninhabited places such as deserted casinos, abandoned institutions, or empty hotels, others present cityscapes, construction sites, and architecture in transition or staged environments that poignantly recall political events. Other images range from alienated public spaces to intimate interiors such as the artists studio, addressing notions of temporality and self-reflection.
The Heather and Tony Podesta Collection stands today as one of the most important collections of contemporary art in the United States. Left Behind reflects the remarkable spirit, vision, taste, and unique perspective of the couple, who take curiosity, audacity, and risk as the guiding principles in their collecting practice.