Complex Uncertainties: Artists in Postwar America

Jepson Center Opens September 30, 2016

Basic copyright 2007

From the rise of America as a world superpower after WWII—and with it, a distinctly individual and identifiably “American” approach to artmaking—to the proliferation of technologies that homogenize American culture today, artists have always been at the forefront of social response. Complex Uncertainties is an evolving exhibition grounded by works in Telfair’s modern and contemporary collection that sheds light on these responses and reveals some of the ways in which historic events challenge artists to explore unknowns, construct narratives, and react to power.

Telfair’s holdings of modern and contemporary art comprise paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and works in new media, representing American artistic achievement from 1945 to the present day. This distinct collection offers a rich and singular institutional story, highlighting artmaking at its most ambitious through strong representative works. It features experimental works that provide clues to artistic transitions, and it boasts uncommon works that enrich our understanding of the history and current complex state of American art. Complex Uncertainties acknowledges the ever-evolving social, political, and cultural conditions that contemporary artists react to and create within. Through this ongoing installation, visitors can explore the impact of artistic responses to specific historical events, as well as palpably empathize with the growing sense of uncertainty that artists address throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Sponsored in part by HunterMaclean.


ComplexUncertainties_300Related Programs

Jepson Center

Film: Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World
Thursday, October 6, 7pm
Tickets $8
Seating is available on a first come, first served basis.

In collaboration with Cinema Savannah, Telfair presents the new film by acclaimed director Werner Herzog, Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World. Herzog’s new documentary focuses on the internet, perhaps the most world-changing technological development since World War II. In this film, the Oscar-nominated director chronicles the virtual world from its origins to its outermost reaches, exploring the digital landscape with the same curiosity and imagination that he previously trained on earthly destinations as disparate as the Amazon, the Sahara, the South Pole, and the Australian outback. Herzog leads viewers on a journey through a series of provocative conversations that reveal the ways in which the online world has transformed how virtually everything in reality works—from business, to healthcare, to our personal relationships.


Free Family Day
Saturday, November 12, 1–4pm

Take time to enjoy the annual Telfair Art Fair, explore Telfair’s modern and contemporary art collection, and apply a bit of your own creativity both inside and outside the museum!


Armstrong Moveable Feast Lecture: Links to Photography in Complex Uncertainties and Watershed
Thursday, December 8, 6pm
Free and open to the public.

Armstrong professors Regina Bradley, Assistant Professor of African American Literature, and Angela Horne, Associate Professor of Art, will present a lecture focusing on the work of several photographers featured in the exhibitions Complex Uncertainties and Watershed. Horne and Bradley will establish a context for considering how narratives found in modern photography help to shape our understanding of race, protest, and agency in the modern South.


Joseph Konopka (American, b. 1932)
Television, 1970
Acrylic on canvas
42 ¼ x 42 ¼ inches
Gift of Casimera Konopka, 2001.24
© Estate of the Artist

Edward Ruscha
(American, b. 1937)
America Her Best Product from Kent Bicentennial Portfolio Spirit of Independence, 1975 
Lithograph on paper
31 1/4 x 23 1/2 inches
Gift of P. Lorillard & Company, 1977.23
© Ed Ruscha