Akron Art Museum and MOCA present Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia


Akron-Art-Museum-Anita's First Boyfriend

Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia

Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries, Akron Art Museum
Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland
May 29-August 28, 2016

Equal parts engagement and provocation, the art of Akron native Mark Mothersbaugh investigates the tension and interplay between order and freedom, repetition and play, technology and individuality and mutation and conformity. Beginning as an art student at Kent State University in the late 1960s, Mothersbaugh’s creative output has since expanded across multiple media and disciplines, including music, drawing and sculpture. Brought to popular fame as the frontman of the band DEVO, Mothersbaugh continues to create work that both resonates within contemporary popular culture and drives it. He has scored numerous influential television shows and movies, ranging from The Rugrats and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse to most of director Wes Anderson’s feature films.

24 Nov 2014:  Mark Mothersbaugh's Myopia exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, CO.  ©Trevor Brown, Jr./Trevor Brown Photography

24 Nov 2014: Mark Mothersbaugh’s Myopia exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, CO. ©Trevor Brown, Jr./Trevor Brown Photography


The Akron Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland jointly present Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia, a career-spanning traveling retrospective from May 29 through August 28. In order to view the full exhibition, it’s necessary to visit both venues. MOCA Cleveland and the Akron Art Museum plan to enhance Myopia’s presentation in Northeast Ohio with exciting opening events on consecutive days.


On Friday, May 27, the doors open at 7pm for guests to see MOCA’s presentation of Myopia as well as the exhibition Richard Myers: Aberrations, with community art making activities enlivening the third floor. At 7:30pm, a free concert will begin on Toby’s Plaza, first featuring a six-piece band playing songs from Mothersbaugh’s extensive catalog. At 8:30pm, Mark Mothersbaugh will perform live alongside six local musicians using his signature six-sided keyboard. Following this unique 30-minute set, Mothersbaugh will DJ to close the concert. The event concludes at 10pm with an after-party in Uptown to follow. For more information, visit mocacleveland.org, or call 216.421.8671.


Opening festivities take place in Akron on Saturday, May 28, beginning with a conversation between Mothersbaugh and Myopia curator Adam Lerner at the Akron-Summit County Public Library (60 S. High St.) at 2pm. Seating is limited. A reception, free and open to the public, will follow at the Akron Art Museum. In addition to the opening festivities, the Akron Art Museum plans an array of Myopia-inspired programming. For information about programs or tickets to the artist’s conversation, please visit akronartmuseum.org or call 330.376.9185.


Myopia at the Akron Art Museum focuses on Mothersbaugh’s daily visual art practice, including an installation of 30,000 postcard-sized drawings the artist has created and utilized for inspiration and exploration throughout his career. He began the daily practice of making postcards in the mid-1970s shortly after completing his college studies. As DEVO toured heavily in the late 1970s, the postcard drawings became a convenient way for Mothersbaugh to make art on the road. The artist continues this practice today, sometimes making only one or two cards, but producing as many as 25 at times. Other works in the exhibition, including prints, rugs and an installation of sculptures Mothersbaugh refers to as roli polis, began as the artist’s postcard sketches.


Mutation and change are continuous themes that run throughout Myopia. “So much of my work is a dichotomy between repetition… and mutation, where something new emerges,” Mothersbaugh explains. “There’s this tension always between order and irregularity, things that just break through from that order.” Examining that interest, the Akron presentation includes installations of mirror-image photographs from the series “Beautiful Mutants,” which the artist began in the early 1990s. Mothersbaugh collects portraits from daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, and uses Photoshop to digitally alter them, making perfectly symmetrical images. The more than 300 works in this series demonstrate that human faces are not as symmetrical as we think and that real strangeness lies in perfect symmetry. Mothersbaugh has extended his mirroring explorations into three dimensions by creating double-rumped My Little Pony sculptures, titled 50-Foot-Tall Scale Models of Proposed Farewell Arches to Luxembourg City.


Myopia in Akron also investigates the aural dimension of the artist’s practice, including audio stations with original musical scores for movies including The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Lego Movie.


Mothersbaugh has generously worked with the Akron Art Museum to develop limited edition merchandise for sale exclusively through the museum shop and website, with proceeds benefiting the museum. These include a fine art print School Days 1958-59 Newberry (My First Pair of Glasses) printed by the Department of Print Media & Photography, Kent State University; a vinyl record Myopia – Akron, Ohio; guitar pedals manufactured by Akron’s own EarthQuaker Devices and a t-shirt featuring an image of Mothersbaugh’s 1977 print Tire 1, inspired by the artist’s experience growing up in Akron. Please visit akronartmuseum.org/store or contact shop manager Laura Firestone at 330-376-9186 for more information.


Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Its presentation in Akron is generously supported by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Audio-Technica, the John P. Murphy Foundation, EarthQuaker Devices, the Department of Print Media & Photography, Kent State University and TKM. Media sponsorship is provided by Western Reserve PBS.


Akron Art Museum

One South High Street

Akron, Ohio 44308




Akron Art Museum Exhibitions for the footer box:

Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia | Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries, May 29 — August 28, 2016

PULP | Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Gallery, Through July 31, 2016

Snack | Judith Bear Isroff Gallery, Through September 3, 2016

Animal As Muse | The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation Gallery, Through August 14, 2016



Myopia Image Credits:

1964-Monument to the conquerors of space.jpg
Mark Mothersbaugh, 1964-Monument to the conquerors of space, 2012, inkjet on paper, 39 x 61 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia roli polis installation view. Photo: Trevor Brown, Jr., Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

Anita’s First Boyfriend.jpg
Mark Mothersbaugh, Anita’s First Boyfriend, 2004, corrected photograph, 20 x 20 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Selected postcard from Mark Mothersbaugh’s collection of more than 30,000 postcards, dating from the early 1970s to 2014.