Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia

Downloadable PDF

Mark Mothersbaugh, 1964 –Monument to the Conquerors of Space, 2012, ink jet on paper, Courtesy of the artist

Mark Mothersbaugh, 1964 –Monument to the Conquerors of Space, 2012, ink jet on paper, Courtesy of the artist


This summer, the MIA presents “Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia,” the most comprehensive presentation of the artist’s work to date. Known throughout the world as a founding member of the popular punk-rock band Devo, Mothersbaugh has been a prolific visual artist since before the band’s inception, creating a diverse body of work that includes drawings, sculptures, photographs, videos, prints, and rugs. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, this retrospective not only reveals Mothersbaugh’s distinct aesthetic sensibility between pop art and comic culture, but also his role as a pivotal figure in the history of contemporary art and indie culture.

“Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia” opens in Minneapolis on June 18, 2015, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring works spanning the artist’s career from the early 1970s through present-day. In his art and his music, Mothersbaugh blends a unique combination of cultural criticism and personal expression that embraces both handmade qualities and the slick elements of consumer culture. From early hand-drawn postcards to later paintings, altered photographs to Devo ephemera, sound-based sculptures to rugs, this exhibition’s varied works highlight the artist’s creative approach and contributions to contemporary popular culture.

“Ultimately, this retrospective positions Mothersbaugh in the world of underground comics, new wave music, punk rock, and street art,” said Elizabeth Armstrong, director of the Center for Alternative Museum Practice (CAMP) and curator of the Mothersbaugh exhibition at the MIA. “Satirical, transgressive, and strictly counter-cultural, his art lampoons both traditional values and the white, technology-based culture with which he had grown up.” The exhibition helps provide an
understanding of Mothersbaugh’s individual work, the creative vision behind a popular yet often misunderstood band, and the artist’s importance in contemporary culture, including punk rock and today’s street artists.

Central to the exhibition is the artist’s complete collection of nearly 30,000 hand-drawn postcards, produced daily since the 1970s. These fantastical and surreal drawings, rendered in pen and ink, serve as the origin for nearly all of the artist’s visual art. The accompanying catalogue Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia, published by Princeton Architectural Press, features a foreword by Wes Anderson and essays by Maria Elana Buszek, Adam Lerner, Carey Levine, Shepard Fairey, and Steven Wolf.

Concurrent to “Myopia” is a presentation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous manuscript, Codex Leicester. Thematically linked to curiosity and observation, “Codex” complements the Mothersbaugh exhibition by showcasing two intensely creative people from different eras demonstrating intense originality in two very different ways.

“Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia” is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, where it opens October 31, 2014. After Minneapolis, the show travels to Cincinnati, Austin, Los Angeles, and New York.