On View Image
rooster peering sideways on blue-striped background
Doug Argue: Letters to the Future
June 17, 2023 - September 10, 2023

Weisman Art Museum is pleased to present Doug Argue: Letters to the Future, on view through the summer from June 17 – September 10, 2023. Doug Argue emerged onto the Twin Cities art scene in the early 1980s. At the age of twenty-two, he had filled a studio with sensational, larger than life paintings made on a scale for museums. Their enormous size aside, these gnarly, expressionist images stood apart from current art fashion. In place of the abstract or conceptual art of so many of his contemporaries, Argue’s early imagery featured intensified personal memories and the louche inhabitants of his imagination.

a colorful painting of chickens in stacked cages

In the ensuing years, Doug’s autobiographical tendencies found a wide range of expression. After becoming a parent he created a series of works that feature fathers and sons. Toned down in size and intensity, these works contain a childlike curiosity about the world that aligns with their subject. Once the artist returned to his studio, however, he again began to make work on a grand scale. In the mid-1990s, word spread about a new painting that was drawing attention in his studio. This canvas, which became known as the “chicken painting,” was a major tour-de-force. It soon went on loan to the Weisman where it became an immediate favorite of visitors to the museum.

An avid reader of philosophy, art and scientific theory, Argue increasingly embraced abstraction in his work. Since the 2000s, in paintings that are more controlled and cerebral, he has explored his interests in time, space, and the nature of perception. By this time he had made several trips to Italy to study the painting techniques of the greatest masters of the Italian Renaissance. Awed by the monumentality of these historic canvases and the way in which they envelop the viewer, Argue began to create a similar sense of immersion through scale and the movement of his imagery.

colorful lines stemming from center of image

Unrestrained by the need for narrative realism, Argue’s new canvases were composed from thousands of tiny, interlocking shapes and lines that suggest the dynamism and fluidity of nature.

Curated by Elizabeth Armstrong, this exhibition gives visitors a chance to see the evolution of Argue’s prolific output. In a term of his own making, his experience has been one of “Artistic Darwinism.” His vision of the world has grown exponentially with his travels, his readings, and his many friendships with creatives around the globe. Yet, above all, it has been the sheer act of painting that has inspired the growth of this hometown artist.

Opening Party

Friday, June 16, 6 - 10 p.m.
Artist Talk, 6:30 p.m.: Doug Argue, with guest curator Elizabeth Armstrong
Reception: 7:30 - 9:30 p.m.

TICKETS: $20 General Admission
$15 for WAM members, UMN faculty & staff
FREE for students

Join us for an opening talk and reception to celebrate the Weisman's summer show, Doug Argue: Letters to the Future. The evening will begin with a conversation between Doug Argue and guest curator Liz Armstrong, followed by a party, where you can enjoy summery small bites, a cash bar, music, and get a first look at this arresting exhibition of work.

Ticket proceeds keep the Weisman’s exhibitions and programs going strong. We appreciate your support!

Image credits: (Top to Bottom) Doug Argue, The Future is Not What it Used to Be (detail), 2006. Oil on linen. 78 x 55 in. Loan from the Hargreaves collection. Image courtesy of the artist; Doug Argue, Untitled, 1994. Oil on canvas. 144 x 216 in. Loan from Cafesjian Art Trust. Image courtesy of the artist; Doug Argue, Genesis, 2007-9. Oil on linen. 160 x 230 in. Loan from Michele and Asher Edelman. Image courtesy of the artist.