In Search of Time occupies three galleries in the new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU and features work from the Broad MSU collection and The Broad Art Foundation, as well as other borrowed artworks. The key loans from The Broad Art Foundation (including pieces by Ed Ruscha, Joseph Beuys, Toba Khedoori, Kara Walker, Anselm Kiefer, Damien Hirst, and Andy Warhol) serve as a celebration of the long history of collecting by the museum’s Founding Donors. As we join together at Michigan State University for the opening of this iconic museum building designed by Zaha Hadid, we mark a culmination in this history and also suspend time in a certain way by exploring, through this presentation of artworks, the relationship between memory, time, and space. By creating dialogues among artworks from the medieval period, the pre-Columbian world, and African, Asian, European, and North American cultures of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, this exhibition gives voice to the longing artists around the world have held for hundreds of years to express in some meaningful way their connection to time and memory. 

Memory denies us the right to question the existence of time. As human consciousness progressed, memory took on personal shadings, both pleasurable and sad. The passage of time became filled with the content of life. Indeed, it is in reaction to time that we live our daily lives, thinking, probably mistakenly, that we are “keeping time” with the demands around us. Time, aligned as it is with death, is the great equalizer. It is often referred to as that which we want more of. It is also a great problem: what exactly is time and how will we maintain the seemingly arbitrary delineations our forebears determined when they established “times” (visible as clocks) as we race toward a timeless digital world not governed by the customary limits of what were essentially agrarian-based structures that defined time to begin with?

In Search of Time responds with a non-linear investigation of time through the multiple lenses of painting, photography, multimedia, printing processes, and advanced media. From Romantic paintings by Henri Jean Guillaume Martin and Albert Bierstadt that evoke a nostalgia for another era to the abstractions of Josef Albers, William Baziotes, and Esteban Vicente, for whom abstraction was an escape from the constraints of time, to the mysterious LED-cum-photo work of Jim Campbell, in which time is perceptible in shadows from the past, the demanding but elusive nature of time is here explored across the centuries. 

The artists featured in In Search of Time include Josef Albers, William Baziotes, Romare Bearden, Joseph Beuys, Albert Bierstadt, Brassaï, Jim Campbell, Larry Clark, John Coplans, Joseph Cornell, Benjamin Cottam, Salvador Dalí, Elliott Erwitt, Paolo di Giovanni Fei, Damien Hirst, E.O. Hoppé, Sam Jury, Toba Khedoori, Anselm Kiefer, Helen Levitt, Edouard Manet, Henri Jean Guillaume Martin, Barbara Morgan, Eadweard Muybridge, Fairfield Porter, E. Rieck, Ed Ruscha, Esteban Vicente, Kara Walker, Andy Warhol and mid-late 20th century African sculptures.

Michael Rush
Exhibition Curator and Founding Director
Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU