Complex Uncertainties: Artists in Postwar America

Jepson Center Ongoing

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:


ComplexUncertainties_300Related Programs

Jepson Center

Lecture by Photographer Judy Linn
Tuesday, February 28, 6pm
Members free / non-members $5

Telfair presents a lecture by renowned American photographer Judy Linn, best known for her collaborations with legendary musician and writer Patti Smith. Linn has produced an extensive body of work since graduating from the Pratt Institute in 1969, including solo shows at Feature Gallery, New York; The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center; White Columns; and the Fotomuseum. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present at the Brooklyn Museum in 2009 and the 1995 Whitney Biennial. Linn’s photographs are in the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Getty Collection, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the International Center of Photography, and Telfair Museums. She is the recipient of an Arts and Letters Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in Photography, and an Anonymous Was a Woman grant. A book of Linn’s photographs of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith: 1969–1976, was published by Abrams in 2011. One of Linn’s photographs also appears on the cover of Smith’s album Radio Ethiopia.


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