New MMoCA Exhibition Announced
James Cagle: A Final Meditation on Art
On View February 29–May 24, 2020
MADISON, WI—The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art will present James Cagle: A Final Meditation on Art, a selection of works by the Wisconsin‐based photographer who is known for transforming familiar objects and overlooked spaces into contemplative images. Cagle’s forthcoming exhibition centers on his most recent visual achievement: a quietly powerful photographic installation he conceived while confronting terminal illness. Supplemented by a selection of his earlier photographic work, in addition to an experimental film he produced in 1973, the exhibition reveals how Cagle’s poetic vision elevates his everyday surroundings into a world of associative possibilities.
His work approaches its subjects in a similar way to an earlier generation of abstract photographers. Starting in the mid‐twentieth century, they embraced the camera as a tool to evoke emotion rather than to document moments or events. Cagle similarly looks to his camera to express, in his words, “a sense of enigma, something revelatory and beyond conventional reality.” He achieves this, in part, through his exceptional ability to find beauty in the commonplace, focusing his lens on things as seemingly unremarkable as an orange Kleenex box or the creased cover of a paperback book. Deftly utilizing the constraints of the photographic frame, he creates tight compositions that either abstract or isolate elements of the real world, thereby allowing viewers to experience something familiar in a new way.
Cagle, in considering the end of his own life, delights in the expansiveness of potential meanings this body of work will undoubtedly engender among museum visitors. Imbuing the everyday with an aura of mystery, A Final Meditation on Art serves as Cagle’s final act of generosity: a lyrical eulogy to the creativity and profundity of daily life.
Generous support, to date, for James Cagle: A Final Meditation on Art has been provided by the Rona B. Malofsky Trust; Bill White; Jan Marshall Fox; Dane County Arts with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation; the Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of the Capital Times; the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation; the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation; and a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Housed in a soaring, Cesar Pelli‐designed building, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art provides free exhibitions and education programs that engage people in modern and contemporary art. The museum’s four galleries offer changing exhibitions that feature established and emerging artists. The Rooftop Sculpture Garden provides an urban oasis with an incredible view. The museum is open: Tuesday through Thursday, noon–5 pm; Friday, noon–8 pm; Saturday, 10 am–8 pm; Sunday, noon–5 pm; and is closed on Mondays.
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James Cagle, Aurora, 2019. Archival pigment print, 6 x 5 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
James Cagle, Domestic Image (Jar with Edge), 2015. Archival pigment print, 12 x 18 inches (20 x 26 inches). Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Gift of the artist.
James Cagle, Green Painting with Afternoon Shadows, 2016. Archival pigment print, 12 x 18 inches (20 x 26 inches). Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Gift of the artist.
James Cagle, Zoology, 2019. Archival pigment print, 6 x 5 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
James Cagle, Waterwork, 1973. 16 mm color film (digitized), 11:00 minute loop. Courtesy of the artist and the New York Filmmakers Cooperative.
James, Cagle, Domestic Image (Diamond), 2015. Archival pigment print, 12 x 18 inches (20 x 26 inches). Collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Gift of the artist.