Hosfelt Gallery is thrilled to present its first exhibition in collaboration with the Conner Family Trust — a show which mines 60 years of work by Bruce Conner and Jean Conner (as well as by Anonymous, Anonymouse, Emily Feather and Signed in Blood), across the genres of drawing, collage, assemblage and painting — highlighting shared themes and recurring motifs. 150 works, some from the private collection of Jean Conner and many never exhibited before, illustrate the artists’ intertwined interests in mysticism, religion, social and cultural norms, the natural world and the human body.
Bruce Conner (1993 – 2008) and Jean Sandstedt (b.1933) met on a blind, double date in 1954 at the University of Nebraska, where they both studied art. They married on September 1, 1957 and left that night for San Francisco, where they quickly fell in with the Beat-era community of artists and poets. The Conners, like other Bay Area artists, refused to conform to the expectations defined by the art establishment of New York, instead embracing the lack of commercial viability of their artworks and their outsider status in ways that led to highly experimental and original art forms.
Then, in the autumn of 1961, spurred by Bruce’s fear of the possibility of nuclear war with the Soviet Union and the intention to live cheaply, the Conners moved to the Juárez neighborhood of Mexico City. The year they lived there proved highly inspirational. Forays to historic churches and pyramids; Dia de los Muertos, and the funeral rites of strangers; a hunt for psilocybin mushrooms; the birth of their son; and day-to-day living in a foreign city and culture led them to independently create related bodies of work that would presage concepts, motifs and techniques they’d explore for the rest of their lives.
This exhibition – by tracing those seminal, symbolic vocabularies and technical strategies – surveys the practices of two remarkable late 20th and early 21st century voices.