Frank Schroder: The Collective

Friday, April 19 – Sunday, May 19, 2002


Frank Schroder, Crowd of Women: 1909–1959, 1998

Frank Schroder, Crowd of Women: 1909–1959, 1998, installation view, 2001, courtesy American Fine Arts, New York.


For more than 13 years Frank Schroder has been collecting drawn and painted portraits of women which he finds in flea markets, second-hand stores and low-end auctions in western Europe and the United States and which date from the turn of the century to the 1950s. In his use of found objects as raw material, we are reminded of the tradition of Duchamp whose readymades challenged the modern myth of an artist’s work being absolutely original. Unlike Duchamp, who appropriated ordinary objects like a bicycle wheel, a snow shovel or a wine rack, Schroder incorporates works by other artists. In most cases the artists and their models are anonymous; in some, however, their identities are known.

Although components of this installation have been included in other exhibitions by Schroder, this one is specifically designed for Zilkha’s unique space. The work’s conceptual underpinnings raise questions about the nature of creativity, originality, authorship, appropriation, voyeurism, women’s roles, and aesthetic styles in the first half of the 20th-century. It also suggests that the act of selecting and arranging work by other artists is as much a form of art-making as painting or drawing a portrait. The title of Schroder’s installation, The Collective, suggests his socio-political subtext, which is intended to undermine the hierarchies of modernist art and its traditional institutional formats. It is not without irony that The Collective is being presented in Zilkha, an architectural monument of High Modernism.

Frank Schroder has shown widely in solo and group exhibitions since the late 1970s, beginning with a Special Projects Room at PS 1 in Long Island City, New York. He was among a group of artists who, in the early 80s, haunted Canal Street for their materials and comprised a short-lived but lively movement known as “Energism.” Since 1982 he has had numerous solo exhibitions in New York, Stockholm, Antwerp, Munich, Zurich, Paris and Bregenz, Austria. Most recently, he had solo exhibitions in New York both at American Fine Arts and the Drawing Center. His next show opens at the Roger Smith Gallery in New York on May 8. He lives and works in New York. For more information, visit frankschroder.orgFrank Schroder: The Collective is curated by Zilkha’s curator of exhibitions, Nina Felshin.