Tonight We Are Going Out and We Are All Getting Hammered
Curated by Nicole Eisenman
Rhode Island School of Design
November 1, 2019–July 19, 2020
HALF A CENTURY ago, an exhibition curated by Andy Warhol and titled Raid the Icebox I opened at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum. The RISD Museum’s storehouse was made available to Warhol, and over the course of six visits he chose whatever he’d like to display. It was believed to be the first significant artist-curated show of its time, and it was called “radical and provocative.” Warhol pulled from storage not just one antique chair, for example, but a large trove of decrepit chairs that were used only for spare parts. He chose 194 pairs of shoes, some parasols, hatboxes (but no hats), oils by Cézanne and Velázquez, and a Rodin sculpture, among many other works. Warhol decided to show them just the way he’d found them in storage: turning away from the viewer, shored up with sandbags, leaning against each other, protected by plastic. As the RISD Museum website notes, Warhol “subvert[ed]traditional notions of connoisseurship and aesthetic display.”
Raid the Icebox Now is RISD Museum’s anniversary project, to which eight contemporary artists were invited to curate their own personal visions with both newly created works and selections from among the 100,000 items in storage—double the number available to Warhol. One of those artists is painter and sculptor Nicole Eisenman, a RISD graduate and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant. She’s brought to light a disparate collection of art under the title “Tonight We Are Going Out and We Are All Getting Hammered,” ranging from a 13th-century Spanish statuette of an apostle carved in wood to Tony Feher’s 2001 sculpture A Few Blue Spots consisting of plastic bottles, water, and wire.
Martha E. Stone is the literary editor of this magazine.