Museum Catalogues

Excerpts From Exhibition Catalogue Essay

Hall Groat II: Contiguous Forms,

Roberson Museum and Science Center,

February-April, 2006


authored by Gerard Haggerty

(ISBN: 0-937318-30-2)

CLICK TO READ: It’s About Time

Gerard Haggerty writes for ARTnews, and teaches at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. His work has won the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Ford Foundation.

“This little picture evokes the Big Picture that we call art history, including painters like Chardin, Edwin Dickinson, and Groat’s teacher Lennart Anderson.”

“One tall canvas depicts an hourglass {half-empty or half-full?} and two closely cropped pictures of clockwork parts seem to cast Walter Murch’s mechanical still-lives in a Baroque light.”

“Two domed bells, each bigger than a fist, sit on either side of the alarm’s curved top and the bent handle that connects them looks like a silver wire. These days that detail will remind some viewers of the fact that clocks are part of a bomb-maker’s arsenal.”

“Though his subjects are models of precision, you’ll find no chill hyperrealism here; the brushwork is direct, and edges are repeatedly lost and found so that the object seems to exist in a world of air and space.”

 Here Groat’s subject matter is a watch, but his subject is tradition, as eloquently described by Igor Stravinsky: “A real tradition is not the relic of a past irretrievably gone; it is a living force that animates and informs the present … Far from implying the repetition of what has been, tradition presupposes the reality of what endures. It appears as an heirloom, a heritage that one receives on condition of making it bear fruit before passing it on to one’s descendants.”

Hall Groat II:Contiguous Forms
Published by Roberson Museum & Science Center, 2006

ISBN 0-937318-30-2
16 pages
20 Color Plates
12 Color Plates

Essay by Gerard Haggerty Art Historian, Brooklyn College

Gerard Haggerty is a regular contributor to ARTnews. His writing has also appeared in Art in America, Arts, Artweek and many other journals and he has written numerous monographs for museums and galleries, here and abroad.


“This little picture evokes the Big Picture that we call art history, including painters like Chardin, Edwin Dickinson, and Groat’s teacher Lennart Anderson.” 



Excerpts From Exhibition Catalogue Essays,

Cosmos & Chaos: A Cultural Paradox,

Roberson Museum and Science Center,

February-April, 2004

Nancy E. Green

Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

We cannot escape the paradox of existing in this technological age. We are complicit in our own dependence on machines that can do everything faster, more efficiently, maybe even better but at what expense? Hall Groat II’s work shows us the loss of our humanity as we barter for more mechanical efficiency in a tech-driven world. The irony of our technological dependence is that it has made us more united in many ways, putting us a click away from the rest of the world, but it has proved divisive too, creating larger gaps between the have and the have-nots while virtually making ownership of such objects mandatory to stay ahead.

Albert Boime

Art Historian, University of California at Los Angeles

The work of Hall Groat II … shares a marked suspicion of technology. Groat believes in some higher order called God and considers himself a practicing non-denominational Christian, a person who seeks to assist others in need and use his skills to convey spiritual moments to others. Science is crucial in its search for knowledge with great potential benefits for humanity.

Absent this quest for knowledge, life would lack meaning and direction. The role of science is to explain the meaning of life, and since life is “sublime,” science should work to preserve it, just as society preserves artifacts that are sublime. Hence Groat’s convergence of life and art. He also believes that science has the responsibility of answering the question of morality-what he describes as “standard of right” that also satisfies a Christian standpoint. The taking of the life of another, for example, runs counter to both the Christian and scientific concern for the preservation of life. The purpose of science, however, has been distorted through commodification. It has both united and divided human beings. Human life has been extended through science, but the quality of this life has been diminished by corporate greed and unbridled power. Groat considers that moderns might be better off in an agrarian society, and this nostalgia for an arcadian past brings us back to his conflict over technology.

His unusual self-portrait entitled ThinkPad (2003) again manipulates conventional viewing by showing his nude torso upside down, as if hanging from the ceiling, with his head overlapping the screen of a laptop computer and a mouse on a blank table surface. Here the mind itself becomes a mere adjunct to the latest technology that usurps the mental faculties, raising the question of the impact of computerization on the thought processes. Celebrated as a liberating technology, it may well be that in the many hours spent in electronically processing the data of mental work results in the technology harnessing our minds and bodies to it as if they were extensions of it rather than masters of it.

Cosmos & Chaos: A Cultural Paradox
Published by Roberson Museum & Science Center, 2004

ISBN 0-937318-26-4
36 pages
38 Color Plates

Essays & Articles by
Albert Boime, Art Historian,
University of California, Los Angeles

Nancy E. Green, Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings,
and Photographs ,
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art,
Cornell University




By Albert Boime

“The attacks of September 11 and millennial despair undoubtedly inspired the theme of the Roberson exhibition, Cosmos & Chaos: A Cultural Paradox.”

“What could be truer than asserting an organic connection between the microcosm of the individual and the microcosm of the universe, and on the other, what could be vaguer than a declaration of this synchronicity?”

“I believe there are strong ties between art and science on the level of creativity and innovation, and in their mutual search for new meanings and the connectedness between all things. ”

“As a group they share the postmodern disillusionment with utopian modernist ideals and logic of historical development and an integrated modern culture in which their work would be a piece of a larger social fabric.”

“Fischl admits to manipulating racial or cultural stereotypes, here playing with the notion of black violence within a white precinct of leisure and advantaged sector of American society.”

“Witkin sees himself as a “mystic” whose work is inspired by a power outside his control and quotes the 121st Psalm, “The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.” The artist aims to disturb and provoke the spectator, often depicting violent and bloody scenes with butchered ad emaciated bodies.”

“Ronald Gonzalez, whose installation of baleful, grinning, and gaping Demonic Heads (2001), exemplify the belief of chaos brought about by the usurpation of cosmic harmony by an opposing force known as Evil.”

“Freud likes to chisel away at the heads and bodies of his sitters, building his forms through facets and planes much like a Cubist but working in a hyper-realist style that is vivified through extreme close-up observation in which both human and accessories are treated with equal emphasis.”

“Perhaps the attempt to unite these vastly disparate artists under the umbrella of cosmology succeeds on the level of their shared fascination for apocalyptic and catastrophist imagery.”  

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