One of the earliest and most sustained dreams human beings have nurtured has been the wish to fly. And although flight and aircraft have figured prominently in contemporary art, until now this intersection has not received much critical attention. The NCMA exhibition and this sumptuously illustrated catalog will undoubtedly rectify that omission.
Defying Gravity features approximately ninety major works of art in varying styles and themes by forty-seven individual artists and four pairs of collaborators, including such internationally renowned figures as Jonathan Borofsky, Vija Celmins, Chris Drury, Andreas Gursky, Malcolm Morley, Panamarenko, James Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella, and Wayne Thiebaud. Younger artists like Doug Aitken, Vera Lutter, and Rosemary Laing are also represented. From Icarus�s tragic flight and the cumbersome contraptions of early aviation to the gleaming might of contemporary bombers and the sobering anxiety with which many regard aircraft since the World Trade Center attacks of 2001, the images collected in Defying Gravity are both arresting and provocative, comical and dreamlike. Together with commentary by the curators�including entries on each artist in the exhibition�and an essay by the highly regarded cultural historian Robert Wohl, this beautifully produced book leads to an artistic understanding of the distinctly human impulse to defy limitation, and of the wondrous and terrible results that impulse can yield.