Philadelphia

View of “Christopher Knowles,” 2015. From left: A Red Clock for Bob Dole, 2009; Untitled, 2012; A Blue Clock for Bill Clinton, 2009.

View of “Christopher Knowles,” 2015. From left: A Red Clock for Bob Dole, 2009; Untitled, 2012; A Blue Clock for Bill Clinton, 2009.

Christopher Knowles

Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania

View of “Christopher Knowles,” 2015. From left: A Red Clock for Bob Dole, 2009; Untitled, 2012; A Blue Clock for Bill Clinton, 2009.

With works dictated by clear binary divisions and rules followed to the letter, “Christopher Knowles: In a Word” demonstrated the steady, straightforward logic of an assured practitioner. Although Knowles is an exemplary artist’s artist—having developed something of a cult following within the art world—ICA’s expansive midcareer show was his first of this scale. The survey, which predominantly featured text-based drawings and paintings (with the notable exceptions of a few representational paintings and a handful of sculptures), fleshed out a lexicon constructed around a singular preoccupation with time. Opening with the typewriter poems of Knowles’s 1970s adolescence (when the autistic youth was “discovered” by Robert Wilson, who invited Knowles to perform with his Byrd Hoffman theatrical group and contribute a significant chunk of the script for Wilson’s 1976 opera

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