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Davis, California

Monday, September 27, 2021

David Humphrey to speak today

UC Davis art students should feel honored. David Humphrey, a New York artist, has agreed to lecture and hold a book signing at the Technocultural Studies Building today from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

The event is open to the public. The seminar will feature his new book, and will have a reception after the event for students to ask him questions.

Humphrey’s speech will “compress 30 years of painting and sculpture into a slide talk augmented by short excerpts from my new anthology of art writing called Blind Handshake,” Humphrey said in an e-mail interview.

Humphrey, born in Germany, has spent most of his 20-year career in New York. He currently teaches art at Yale University’s graduate program, and his work has been shown in famous galleries around the country, such as the MET in New York.

“[Humphrey] draws on a wide range of influences – from popular culture to classical Rome,” said UC Davis professor Gina Werfel, who teaches in the studio art program.

Humphrey recently won the highly acclaimed Prix de Rome, a scholarship that was started in the 17th century to honor artists who excel either in architecture, painting, sculpture, musical composition and engraving.

Art studio program lecture series coordinator Aleksander Bohkan said “Humphrey’s work contains really unusual juxtapositions of images, like a kitten next to sliced bread.”

“[It’s] very surreal, but referencing so many different elements of our culture,” Bohkan said. “He would be best described as post-modern.”

Not only is he an accomplished and respected artist of the modern world, Humphrey has authored several books. His latest work, Blind Handshake, will be featured at the signing.

“[Blind Handshake] is a remix of reviews, catalog essays and occasional pieces published between 1990 and the present,” Humphrey said. “I collaborated with the San Francisco designer Geoff Kaplan to create a space on the page in which image and text jockey for priority and make a case for writing as an extension of studio practice.”

Humphrey is considered by the art studio program to be the kick-off event of this season, which will continue to bring a new and exciting repertoire of guest speakers this year.

Professor Kurt Rohde, an esteemed musician and music department faculty member, also received the prestigious Prix de Rome award several years ago.

Humphrey was planning a visit to see him, and Rohde, along with several colleagues, asked Humphrey to consider giving a possible lecture during his stay.

Bohkan says Humphrey’s work is, “funny and smart, witty, complex and very in depth because he layers images uniquely.”

Humphrey looks forward to student interactions.

“Apparently the grad students have been asked to read my book along with Jerry Salz’s new book of art criticism,” Humphrey said. “I’m eager for some unexpected perspectives and challenges.”

BRITTANY PEARLMAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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