Paula Cooper Takes on Estate of Terry Adkins, Who Blurred Boundaries Between Art and Music

Paula Cooper Takes on Estate of Terry Adkins, Who Blurred Boundaries Between Art and Music

New York’s Paula Cooper Gallery has added to its roster the estate of Terry Adkins, whose vital sculptures and performances considered how sound could channel aspects of Black history. Plans are in place to mount an Adkins show at the gallery in 2022.

Music, even when it isn’t heard within gallery spaces, haunts many works by Adkins. He’s known for sculptures that make use of materials like scraps found in junkyards and wood in service of inquiries about visibility and history. Adkins’s career was cut short at age 60 when he died of a heart failure in 2014, just as his work was receiving major attention, with an appearance in that year’s Whitney Biennial.

In addition to working solo, Adkins also founded the Lone Wolf Recital Corps, a group of musicians and artists which, since 1986, has been paying homage to figures like Bessie Smith and Martin Luther King, Jr. through “recitals,” or baroque performances involving musical elements, costumes, and sculpture. Adkins is also fondly remembered as an influential teacher with the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design.

“Adkins’s art-historical significance is undeniable; his poetic approach to the interplay of sculpture and sound is revolutionary,” Alexis Johnson, a partner at Paula Cooper Gallery, said in an email. “Beyond his own merit as an artist, as an educator he had and continues to have immeasurable influence on generations of artists.”

The artist was formerly represented by Lévy Gorvy, whose founders, Dominique Lévy and Brett Gorvy, are set to link up with Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Amalia Dayan to form a new gallery called LGDR. (Greenberg Rohatyn’s gallery, Salon 94, also previously showed Adkins’s work.) Thomas Dane Gallery, which has spaces in London and Naples, will continue to represent the Adkins estate.

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