Carl Ostendarp: Pulled Up is a result of close collaboration between the artist and The RISD Museum. Ostendarp visited in September 2008 in anticipation of creating an exhibition that would feature his own paintings with a selection of works of his choice from the permanent collection. The result presents a vibrant two-color “drip” wall mural; prints and drawings by artists ranging from Odilon Redon, Jean Arp, and Jackson Pollock to Barnett Newman and Ed Ruscha; and two new works on canvas by Ostendarp. Characterized by simple biomorphic forms, words, and rich unmodulated color, Ostendarp’s paintings merge Pop art, Color-field, and Minimalism into a deadpan but witty language of their own.
The project recalls and extends the legacy of Andy Warhol’s Raid the Icebox I, organized at the Museum nearly 40 years ago. Both artists delved deeply into collections storage, but where Warhol’s exhibition ran the gamut from Navajo blankets, Windsor chairs, and cases of antique shoes to “fine” art, Ostendarp has focused on 20th-century works, especially prints and drawings from the 1960s and 1970s. Both exhibitions, however, enable us to look at works of art with fresh eyes, and to understand how dramatically our understanding of these pieces is affected by the context in which we experience them.