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Storm Tharp | Third Person

Storm Tharp | Third Person

Storm Tharp (American, born 1970)  is the youngest Cornell alumnus to have a monographic show of his work at the Johnson Museum. Previous alumni exhibitions have been dedicated to Margaret Bourke-White, Arthur Dove, Susan Rothenberg, Richard Artschwager, Gordon Matta-Clark, and James Siena. Storm Tharp | Third Person not only continues this tradition of exhibiting artist-graduates but also provides an opportunity to bring Tharp’s art to the attention of current students who aspire to be artists and to a greater public audience.

The two-part exhibition will be on view both at the Johnson and at Milstein Hall, the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning’s new building. Works on view at the Johnson date from the past eight years, many on loan from major collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The Milstein portion (January 19–February 22) highlights Tharp’s newest drawings and sculptures along with a mural painted on site in late January by the artist, assisted by current Cornell students. Visit Milstein's Flickr gallery of their exhibition here.

Tharp graduated from Cornell in 1992 with a BFA. Following the selection of his work for the 2010 Whitney Biennial, he has become widely known for enigmatic portraits that investigate the performance of identity and abstraction. His unique drawing process is an integral part of his approach to portraiture: he often first draws contours on the paper with water and then applies mineral inks to the wet areas, causing pigments to bleed across the sheet. Through this element of chance, Tharp builds up his distinctive characters inspired by a wide-ranging set of influences, including 1970s American cinema and Japanese portrait prints. To highlight some of these visual references, Tharp will select Japanese prints from the Johnson’s collection for display in the adjacent Opatrny Gallery at the Museum.

This exhibition was curated by Andrea Inselmann, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art & Photography at the Johnson Museum. The Museum exhibition is supported in part by the Helen and Robert J. Appel Exhibition Endowment and the Ames Exhibition Endowment, and a grant from the Cornell Council for the Arts. At Milstein, it is supported in part by the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.


The work has been photographed by Bill Bachhuber and Dan Kvitka.

Images from Storm Tharp | Third Person (Click an image to open slideshow)