• James Welling, Ducks, Winter, 2003.

    James Welling, Ducks, Winter, 2003.

    The Big Nothing

    Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania
    University of Pennsylvania 118 South 36th Street
    May 1–August 1, 2004

    Curated by Ingrid Schaffner, Bennett Simpson, and Tanya Leighton

    One of Nietzsche’s most famous apothegms goes something like this: Don’t stare too long into the abyss or the abyss might stare back into you. The curators of “The Big Nothing” remain unfazed, and their show expands to thirty-six venues in the City of Brotherly Love, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with its legendary Duchamp collection. Focusing on the “driving ideas of modern and contemporary art, nothingness and negation,” the exhibition features such vacuous classics as Artschwager, Warhol, and Klein, as well as a hollow-eyed cadre of contemporaries, like Jack Goldstein, Louise Lawler, and William Pope.L. The catalogue contains essays by curators Ingrid Schaffner, Tanya Leighton, and Bennett Simpson. Smells like l’air de Paris.