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Start Making Sense
June 22 – October 20, 2024
→ CCS Bard Galleries
Exhibition Category
Major Exhibitions, Hessel Collection Exhibitions

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 22, 2024, 2pm - 5pm

For a seat on the free roundtrip chartered bus from New York City for the opening please call T +1 845 758 7593 or email Andres Laracuente at Reservations are required for the bus.

Start Making Sense brings together highlights from the collections housed at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College; the art collection, Special Collections – part of the CCS Bard library, and the CCS Bard archives. At a moment when the Center is poised to greatly expand its library, archives and classrooms with the new 12,000-square- foot Keith Haring Wing, doubling the size of the library and adding 75% more collection storage below ground (opening in 2025), Start Making Sense creates an open dialogue between artworks and the contexts (exhibitions, institutions, galleries, events, curators, and collectors) which literally “make sense” of the works on display. It does so in a playful dialogue between art objects, archives, ephemera, and rare books held at CCS Bard beginning with the Marieluise Hessel Collection and moving to more recent gifts from a broad range of collectors, curators, artists, and others, who have placed their gifts at the disposition of the students, faculty, and outside researchers, who form the CCS Bard community.

The project began with a conversation about a quirky 1972 essay written by art critic David Antin: “There are a set of people who are…painting relators…and these painting relators relate your paintings to other paintings, which is how you know these are paintings..”1 Start Making Sense takes this prompt and investigates the people and the cultural contexts that championed (whether critically or otherwise) diverse modes of artmaking and in so doing, established meaning and significance to the works themselves.

With a focus on New York City in the 1990s and early 2000s, the exhibition selects key events during this period when new ruptures emerged, forms of distribution expanded and New York City was as much a cultural hub as well as a global marketplace. All this took place on the doorstep of a period of enormous expansion for art, a period of globalization and rapidly growing audiences and museum buildings themselves.

Start Making Sense does not aim to make major art historical claims (in fact a significant exclusion is art critics - who currently stand outside of the collecting practices of CCS Bard); it’s a starting point, a road-map or reference point, a research project, looking for links across different mediums through the archival documents and publications that evoke the time period and serve as devices that connect all of the players in the room. With over 60 artists and over 50 documents and rare books presented, the exhibition is a spider’s web of interrelated parts. Part exhibition and part teaching tool, Start Making Sense engages the collections at CCS Bard in an open-faced exchange which reveals some of what happened when, how and by whom in a decade of transformation and dissent.

Artists included: John Ahearn, Ida Applebroog, Richard Artschwager, Ed Atkins, Steven Ausbury and Todd Alden, John Baldessari, BANK (Simon Bedwell, John Russell, Milly Thompson and Andrew Williamson), Matthew Barney, Ross Bleckner, Jonathan Borofsky, Glenn Brown, Sophie Calle, Francesco Clemente, Mark Dion, Jimmie Durham, Tracey Emin, Urs Fischer, Eric Fischl, Andrea Fraser, General Idea, Robert Gober, Nan Goldin, Simon Grennan and Christopher Sperandio, Guerrilla Girls, David Hammons, Lyle Ashton Harris, Mary Heilmann, Damien Hirst, Isaac Julien, Alex Katz, Karen Kilimnik, Jeff Koons, Zoe Leonard, Glenn Ligon, Sarah Lucas, Robert Mapplethorpe, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Allan McCollum, Takashi Murakami, Cady Noland, Christopher Ofili, Catherine Opie, Tony Oursler, Laura Owens, Philippe Parreno, Raymond Pettibon, Elizabeth Peyton, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Charles Ray, Tim Rollins & K.O.S., Cindy Sherman, Roman Signer, Jessica Stockholder, Thomas Struth, Elaine Sturtevant, Philip Taaffe, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Rosemarie Trockel, Chris Verene, Kara Walker, Franz West, Rachel Whiteread, Christopher Wool, and Cerith Wyn Evans.

The exhibition includes major gifts by Gavin Brown, Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, John G. Hanhardt, Marieluise Hessel, Mary Jane Jacob, Barbara and Howard Morse, Melissa Schiff Soros, and Robert Soros.

Start Making Sense is curated by Ann Butler (Director of Library and Archives, CCS Bard) and Tom Eccles (Executive Director, CCS Bard), and Marina Caron (CCS Bard ’23). Additional research provided by Sophie Rose (CCS Bard ’24).

Exhibitions at CCS Bard and the Hessel Museum of Art are made possible with generous support from Lonti Ebers, the Marieluise Hessel Foundation, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, the Board of Governors of the Center for Curatorial Studies, and the Center’s Patrons, Supporters, and Friends.

  1. David Antin, “Talking at Pomona”, Artforum, September 1972, pp 38-47.