Spiral Play: Loving in the '80s at the Baltimore Museum of Art, October 2017. Photo by Mitro Hood.
Spiral Play: Loving in the '80s at the Baltimore Museum of Art, October 2017. Photo by Mitro Hood.

The first of four BMA/A+P exhibitions features three-dimensional collages by Loving

BALTIMORE, MD (September 12, 2017)— The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) presents 12 exuberant collages by the late African American artist Al Loving in Spiral Play: Loving in the ‘80s, on view October 18, 2017 through April 15, 2018. The exhibition reveals the artist working free from the constraints of academic taste, conventional thought, commercial reward, and the four corners of the canvas with three dimensional works that nearly leap off the wall with their brilliant colors and radical forms. The exhibition is presented by the BMA and the Los Angeles-based arts and education nonprofit, Art + Practice (A+P), which debuted the show in April 2017.

Loving (American, 1935–2005) was one of the most innovative abstract artists in history, experimenting with materials and processes, drawing on everything from free jazz to his family’s quilting tradition, to expand the definition of modern painting. Loving’s collages reject the dominant art history in favor of a personal experience, intuition, formal recklessness, and a deliberate embrace of unknowing. The large-scale works expand into space, reconciling geometry and an expression of life force through profound and playful organic form. In the artist’s words, “I chose the spiral as a symbol of life’s continuity. It became an overall wish for everyone.”

Spiral Play is the first in a series of four exhibitions to be presented by the BMA and A+P, two vastly different institutions at opposite ends of the country who share a conviction that art must be made accessible to the broadest demographic.

“The collaboration between BMA and A+P represents an alignment of vision and ambition to serve urban communities who are too often ignored by museums,” said Christopher Bedford, BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “The exhibitions we will undertake together intend to correct the 20th- and 21st-century canon, quite literally changing the face of that story, making it clear that art is a place of conversation and inclusion that can participate meaningfully in changing the world for the better.”

Spiral Play: Loving in the ‘80s is co-curated by Christopher Bedford and Katy Siegel, BMA Senior Curator for Research and Programming and Thaw Endowed Chair at Stony Brook University.

Special thanks to the Estate of Al Loving and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York


Born in Detroit in 1935, Loving relocated to New York in 1968. Unlike other African American artists whose art focused on the racial politics of the era, Loving was a staunch abstractionist. His works were built upon strict yet simple geometric shapes—often hexagonal or cubic modules. Inspired by Hans Hoffmann (who taught Loving’s
mentor Al Mullen), Loving concentrated on the tension between flatness and spatial illusionism. He explored this
tension using a hard-edged geometric vocabulary related to Minimalism—as in Untitled, 1969, which uses a strategic
layering of cubic forms and juxtaposition of warm and cool colors to create an optical play of three-dimensionality.

Throughout his career, Loving had solo exhibitions at many well-known institutions, including: Gertrude Kasle Gallery
in Detroit; William Zierler, Inc., Fischbach Gallery, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Diane Brewer Gallery, June Kelly Gallery, and Kenkeleba House in New York City; and the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York. His work was also featured in many important group exhibitions, such as L’art vivant aux États-Unis (Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul, France), Contemporary Black Artists in America (Whitney Museum of American Art), Lamp Black: Afro-American Artists, New York and Boston (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), Another Generation (The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York), Afro-American Abstraction (P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Queens), and The Appropriate Object (Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo), among others. Most recently, Loving’s work appeared in High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting, 1967–1975 (Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro), Target Practice: Painting Under Attack, 1949–1978 (Seattle Art Museum), America is Hard to See (Whitney Museum of American Art), and Marrakech Biennale 6 (Morocco). Loving’s work is featured in the collections of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art; the National Gallery of Art; the Pérez Art Museum, Miami; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Rose Art Museum, Waltham, Massachusetts; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Conceived and founded by artist Mark Bradford, philanthropist and collector Eileen Harris Norton, and community activist Allan DiCastro, Art + Practice (A+P) is an arts and education private operating foundation based in Leimert Park, Los Angeles. A+P’s mandate is to create a developmental platform that, on one hand, supports the acquisition of practical skills for foster youth, and, on the other, stresses the importance of creative activity within a larger social context. Admission to all exhibitions and public programs are free and available to the public. To learn more, visit www.artandpractice.org.

About the Baltimore Museum of Art

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.

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