Monday, August 11, 2008

Large? It Contains Multiples

The Davidson Galleries in Pioneer Square is currently hosting a rare and amazing exhibit in the suite of rooms that makes up the rear of their Antique Print gallery. Under the direction of curator Emily Pothast, Davidson is exhibiting a complete set of all six of the famous SMS portfolios released in 1968 by American Surrealist William Copley.

SMS (aka. “Shit Must Stop”) was a short lived collaboration between some of the most important artists of the 20th century. Centered around Copley's loft on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, SMS was an open-ended experiment that epitomized the idealism and community ethos of the late 1960's. Frequented by artists, curators, performers and composers both accomplished and aspiring, Copley's loft became renowned for its utopian morale and hospitable working conditions, which included "a perpetually replenished buffet, an open bar, and a pay phone filled with dimes."

The six volumes of the SMS portfolio were the crowning achievement of the experiment. Copley assembled the portfolios and mailed them directly to subscribers. Each portfolio included meticulously editioned works by an unparalleled roster of artists which included Marcel Duchamp, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Ray Johnson, Claes Oldenberg, John Cage, Yoko Ono, and many many more. The portfolios included meticulous instructions on how to un-pack and re-pack the assembled works.

Davidson Galleries has scored a coup on the 40th anniversary of the portfolios, and is celebrating by exhibiting a complete set of all six. This is a world class exhibit of some of the greatest printmakers in modern art, on display until September 27.

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