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Rosalie D. Gagné: A Contemporary Alchemist

September 18—December 22, 2024

In Rosalie D. Gagné: A Contemporary Alchemist, the first retrospective exhibition of her work, the Neuberger Museum of Art explores the artist’s fascination with opposing worlds—organic and artificial, solid and ethereal, microcosm and macrocosm—and investigates the ensuing tensions. 

For as long as I can remember, observing nature and experimenting with matter have always been valuable tools of knowledge for me. Sometimes, I imagine that if I had not worked in the field of visual arts, I would have been active in the sciences, and that if I had been born in the Middle Ages, I like to think that I would have been an alchemist.

— Rosalie D. Gagné

Sept 18: Opening Reception

Over the last twenty-five years, Pan-American artist Rosalie D. Gagné has combined manual sculpting practices with new technologies. She has intertwined the traditional arts of glassblowing and clay with compositions incorporating synthetic materials, computers, electronics, including polyethylene, ventilators, motion detectors, LED light systems, and other new technologies.

Black and white archival image of artist Rosalie D. Gagné in her studio with a Mexican flag on the wall and with a compass in her hands. Rosalie D. Gagné: A Contemporary Alchemist Her early fascination with alchemy is manifested through works featuring eccentric glass vases and liquids that resemble those of a chemistry laboratory. Inspired by Foucault’s device, she made hanging sculptures such as Pendulum (2006), which expressed her interest in cosmology and the place of humankind and Earth in the universe. Since 2009, her ventures into biology and meditation have inspired sound, movement, and color-generating installations that explore biomimicry through sculptures that replicate shapes and behaviors found in nature. And in collaboration with her colleague Sofian Audry, since 2018 she has been working on an ambitious project called Morphosis involving robots and machine learning algorithms.

Showcasing nearly all of her artistic production since 1997, the exhibition documents Gagné’s most important site-specific projects, including Artificial Kingdom IV (2020): forty-five inflatable polyethylene cells that hang from a twenty-foot ceiling and react to the visitor’s presence. First installed in the Grand Theatre de Québec in 2020, this major installation will be replicated for the Neuberger Museum of Art’s Theatre Gallery. The exhibition also features a selection of freehand preparatory drawings on paper.

Rosalie D. Gagné: A Contemporary Alchemist
is organized by the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, SUNY, in collaboration with the Willowell Foundation. The exhibition is curated by Patrice Giasson, the Alex Gordon Curator of Art of the Americas, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

Funding for the exhibition and catalogue has been generously provided by the Alex Gordon Foundation, with the support of the Alex Gordon Estate.  The artist has also received funding from the Conseil des arts et de lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts to support works that will be showcased in this exhibition.

Support for the opening receptions has been provided by the Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art.