Ari Marcopoulos: Within Arm's Reach (September 23, 2009 – February 7, 2010)

First mid-career survey in the U.S. and first one-person exhibition at a West Coast museum

Berkeley, CA, May 6, 2009 - (Download a PDF version of this press release.) The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents, one of two major exhibitions opening this fall. Within Arm's Reach is the photographer's first mid-career survey in the United States and his first one-person exhibition at a West Coast museum. The show is on view from September 23, 2009, through February 7, 2010.

Born in Amsterdam in 1957, Marcopoulos came to New York in 1979 and quickly became part of the downtown art scene that included up-and-coming artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Since then, Marcopoulos has become recognized as a key documentarian of contemporary culture as it unfolds: recording the emerging hip-hop scene, shooting snowboarders hurtling down a vertical mountain face, or chronicling the vicissitudes of his own family life, Marcopoulos's works unerringly capture the zeitgeist.

Marcopoulos appears to have an uncanny connection with the people he photographs, from Andy Warhol to Kiki Smith, John Cage to LL Cool J, and many other characters both celebrated and unknown. His self-taught style brings his subjects in close and captures, without sentimentality or voyeurism, the intimate essence of their daily lives. Populated with idiosyncratic characters, each of Marcopoulos's photographs is particular to a unique time and place; yet his images reach us through their expression of familiar themes such as the meaning of family, the solitude of nature, and the quest for adventure. Like all great photographers, Marcopoulos has the ability to distill a riveting and timeless image from the flux of activity that surrounds us.

Occupying two large galleries in the museum, a selection of more than ninety photographs spanning the artist's career includes early New York work portraying street life and the downtown art and music scene; images of skateboarders and professional snowboarders around the world from the 1990s into the twenty-first century; landscapes; and portraits of the artist's family at home in California. (Marcopoulos is currently based in Sonoma County.) The formats range from gelatin silver, chromogenic, and inkjet prints in various sizes to poster-scale black-and-white photocopies. Interspersed among the photographs in the galleries will be flat-screen monitors showing the artist's videos, and his artist's books and zines will be presented in vitrines. Ari Marcopoulos: Within Arm's Reach was curated by Curatorial Associate Stephanie Cannizzo.

Related Materials

In conjunction with the exhibition, Ari Marcopoulos: Within Arm's Reach, BAM/PFA is producing a 120-page exhibition catalog, to be co-published by the Switzerland-based company JRP/Ringier and designed by Marcopoulos.


The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is the visual arts center of the University of California, Berkeley, one of the nation's leading research universities. BAM/PFA aims to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through contemporary and historical art and film, engaging audiences from the campus, Bay Area community, and beyond. One of the largest university art museums in the United States in both size and attendance, BAM/PFA presents fifteen art exhibitions and five hundred film programs each year. The museum's collection of more than 15,000 works, distinguished by artistic excellence and innovation, intellectual exploration, and social commentary, includes exceptional examples of mid-twentieth-century painting, including important works by Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock, Eva Hesse, and Mark Rothko, as well as historical and contemporary Asian art, early American painting, Conceptual and contemporary international art, and California and Bay Area art. The PFA film and video collection now includes the largest group of Japanese films outside of Japan, as well as impressive holdings of Soviet silents, West Coast avant-garde cinema, seminal video art, rare animation, Central Asian productions, Eastern European cinema, and international classics.

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Posted by admin on May 06, 2009