Michael Luchs, Untitled Frog, mixed paints on paper, ca. 2000. Image credit: Kathryn Brackett Luchs. Courtesy of the artist.

Michael Luchs: Fictitious Character

On view May 11 through July 29, 2018

A selection of the artist’s wall and sculptural works will fill MOCAD’s Central and DEPE Space galleries – heavily worked pieces held together by collages of unique gesture. Smears, sprays, scratches, and splatters of color define Luchs’s iconic aesthetic, a reflection of both his pioneering postmodernism and Detroit’s Cass Corridor movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

As with his fellow Cass Corridor artists, Luchs identified with a certain raw and frenetic romanticism. That energy frames the unique fabric of his art – paper, board, and canvas filled with scrappy renditions of animals or ovoid forms. Some are backed with duct tape or framed on wire-rolled paper.

In the mid-1960s, Luchs began working with the image of the rabbit, which became a hallmark of his figurative depictions. Though his archives are filled with additional motifs—such as frogs, snakes, and moths, all of which will be on display at MOCAD—the rabbit has possessed a particular endurance and come to be emblematic of Luchs’ work. Rabbits have long been totems of speed, vulnerability, virility, and spontaneity, all particularly reflective of the Cass Corridor movement’s embrace of the anarchic.

As we find ourselves in another period of social, economic, and political uncertainty—one in many ways reminiscent of the 1960s and ’70s—the autonomy that energized Detroit’s Cass Corridor artists seems particularly trenchant. Emblems that read as hopeful then resonate again today, echoing both the uncertainty of the present moment and the hope for positive change. Luchs’s work pushes us to question the world as we see it, and, with all that has happened in the last several decades, to see the potential and the pitfalls along the road ahead.

Michael Luchs: Fictitious Character curated by Elysia Borowy-Reeder, Executive Director and Acting Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator and organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Curatorial support is provided by Robin K. Williams, Ford Foundation Curatorial Fellow. Exhibition management is provided by Zeb Smith, Exhibitions Manager.

Support for exhibitions and public programs is provided by the A. Alfred Taubman Foundation. Generous support for Michael Luchs: Fictitious Character is provided by Karen + Ralph Basile in honor of Julie Reyes Taubman, Gayle and Andrew Camden, Suzy and Burton Farbman, Marsha and Jeffrey Miro.

The Ford Curatorial Fellows at MOCAD are supported by the Ford Foundation.

Exhibition catalog design is generously supported by Lorraine Wild of the Green Dragon Office.

About Michael Luchs

Michael Luchs (b. Portsmouth, Ohio 1938) was among the celebrated Detroit Cass Corridor painters and sculptors in the 1960s and 1970s. Luchs graduated from Olivet College (Olivet, Michigan) in 1961, and attended the University of Michigan in 1964 before moving to Detroit, where he studied at Wayne State University (1966-68).

His work is part of several collections including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Wayne State University James Duffy Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), and the Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, as well as several private collections throughout the United States. He was recently part of the 2017 Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in New York, where he was the recipient of the Academy’s 2017 Art and Purchase Award.