Positive Fragmentation: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation

Mixed media work on paper depicts a tangle of colorful forms in the center of the paper. Some forms are printed abstracted architectural structures and pipes. Other forms are made out of mylar and represent hoses and plastic fencing.
Jan 29 to May 22, 2022

On view at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center
Drawn from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, Positive Fragmentation includes more than 100 works by 21 contemporary artists who use fragmentation both stylistically and conceptually. Through their prints, they question the status quo and suggest new perspectives. For some, the result is enough: pulling apart images and ideas exposes what lies beneath or heralds the value of each part. Other artists assemble fragments to create a new whole defined by its components. This exhibition explores these creative approaches in the work of some of the most important contemporary artists.

Artists in this exhibition fragment, and often reassemble, elements including shape, color, perspective, text, idea, or stereotype. Betye Saar and Wendy Red Star construct new meanings and iconographies through assemblage of repurposed imagery, while Lorna Simpson, Ellen Gallagher, and Jenny Holzer use fragmented text to reveal the limitations and power of language. Other artists, such as Louise Bourgeois and Wangechi Mutu, focus on the body, with works that respectively isolate body parts and combine them from disparate sources to probe assumptions about gender and race. Nicola López and Sarah Morris both use architecture, whose elements—beams, girders, sheathing, wiring—they distill and rearrange to emphasize the unseen social forces that support or destabilize our environments.

Other artists in the exhibition are Polly Apfelbaum, Jennifer Bartlett, Christiane Baumgartner, Cecily Brown, Judy Chicago, Nicole Eisenman, Julie Mehretu, Judy Pfaff, Swoon, Barbara Takenaga, Mickalene Thomas, and Kara Walker.

Etching of a light skinned figure with dramatic dark shading around their eyes, along their noes, lips, and chin. The figure is wearing an unbuttoned black and white plaid flannel shirt and a white tee shirt with handwritten black lettering underneath. Th

Nicole Eisenman, Picabia Filter II, 2018; Intaglio with drypoint, ed. 10/15, 22 1/2 x 15 in.; Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer; Photo by Aaron Wessling Photography; Courtesy the artist and Anton Kern Gallery, New York; © Nicole Eisenman

Exhibition Sponsors

Positive Fragmentation, organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, is made possible through the generous support of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation. The exhibition is presented in partnership with the American University Museum in memory of Arlene Schnitzer.

  • Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation
  • American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center

Related Media

Audio Guide

Flowing, organic line illustrations of animals in black, teal, brown, green, and pink. Some animals are more fully rendered than others. The animals are crowded together, overlapping and flowing together, and vary from large animals like elephants to small animals like dogs.
Hear from a selection of Positive Fragmentation artists in this audio guide that explores the processes of the artists and their works in the exhibition.

Virtual Tour

Take a virtual tour of Positive Fragmentation and check out artwork highlights with curator Virginia Treanor.