Located at the center of the Pulitzer’s Tadao Ando-designed building, the water court inhabits a liminal space that challenges viewers’ perceptions. Depending on the light, the weather, and the time of day, the water seems either shallow or deep, reflective or impenetrable. With this ambiguous element as its inspiration, the exhibition Water attended to the myriad illusions of which water is capable, and the works on view revealed the range of responses that water has elicited from modern and contemporary artists.
Alternately natural and domestic, necessary and dangerous, water touches every aspect of our world and ourselves. Specific juxtapositions within this exhibition encouraged visitors to think about water as that which is omnipresent but variable—comforting in some contexts and destructive in others. Works by artists including Max Beckmann, Robert Gober, Roni Horn, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Long, Henri Matisse, Claes Oldenburg, Cy Twombly, and Rachel Whiteread were exhibited in relation both to the building’s reflective pool and to each other, providing new and different perspectives on this otherwise familiar substance.