Arnold Mesches : The FBI Files

September 23, 2002–February 1, 2003

Presenting a timely theme, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center exhibits approximately forty collages and four large paintings, all inspired by FBI files, by Bronx-born Arnold Mesches.

When a series of Mesches' paintings responding to the Rosenberg trial in the 1950s were stolen from his studio, Mesches suspected the FBI. In 2001, Mesches discovered and gained access to 760 pages of FBI files covering intelligence about his activities in protests, personal life, and work between 1945 and 1972. Mesches was inspired by the aesthetic beauty of the typed pages, in which large portions of text were obscured by black marker, and integrated actual pages from the files with newspaper clippings, photographs, paintings, drawings, and hand-written texts to create vividly colored "contemporary Illuminated Manuscripts." Mesches' work, informed by world history, is included in a number of major museum collections worldwide.


  • Arnold Mesches: The FBI Files
    Installation view

  • Arnold Mesches: The FBI Files
    Installation view

 

Arnold Mesches: The FBI Files is organized by P.S.1 Associate Curator Daniel Marzona.