Suellen Rocca’s Posthumous Exhibition Opens in Vienna

August 26, 2020 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Photo by: Peter Mochi

A posthumous exhibition featuring the most recent works of Elmhurst University curator and director of exhibitions Suellen Rocca recently opened at the Vienna Secession exhibition hall, in Austria. The exhibition represents Rocca’s final show before her death earlier this year.

“Suellen was very happy and excited to get a chance to exhibit her work in Vienna,” and was planning to attend the opening reception, said Mary Lou Stewart, art professor and former art department chair at the University.

Before her death, Rocca had been designing the layout of the installation, collaborating virtually with officials in Vienna to ensure that the exhibit matched her artistic vision. Located in the museum’s Grafisches Kabinett exhibition space, the installation features some of her most recent works, as well as a bed and a folding screen.

“Suellen was very particular about how her work would be installed,” Stewart said. “She worked with the planning of the Secession space using a 3D model that was made for her. This is the way she envisioned where each piece would be installed.”

According to the Secession website, the installation makes museum-goers a de facto part of the exhibit: “New paintings and drawings are presented together with paintings from recent years in a setting composed of a folding screen and a simple bed that cites Rocca’s pictorial vocabulary. Presenting the actual objects next to their figurative representations blurs the lines between exhibition and pictorial space, and supports the sensation of virtually being able to step into the pictures’ landscapes.”

Rocca also designed a fan-folded book that accompanies the exhibit. It features nine additional sketches and drawings, including renderings of dollhouse furniture that Rocca recently discovered. Rocca’s find from her childhood intrigued her, Stewart said, and the Secession calls that period of time a “frequent source of inspiration.”

Rocca’s exhibition at the Vienna Secession runs through Nov. 3. Complete information about the exhibit, photos from inside the gallery and a slideshow of images from the supplemental book can be found on the Secession website.

The Secession is the latest museum to feature Rocca’s work. Her art is a part of many prestigious collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Rocca died on March 26 at the age of 76.

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