The New Social Environment#380

A Conversation with Julie Curtiss, KAWS, Anne Pasternak, and Peter Saul

With Rail Editor-at-Large Jason Rosenfeld


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Artists Julie Curtiss, KAWS, Peter Saul and Brooklyn Museum Director Anne Pasternak join Rail Editor-at-Large Jason Rosenfeld for a conversation. We conclude with a poetry reading by Gabrielle Bates.

In this talk

Julie Curtiss

Photo of Julie Curtiss
French artist based in Brooklyn Julie Curtiss focuses on the relationship between nature and culture in her figurative painting, sculpture, and gouache on paper, exposing and reworking female archetypes through a surrealist sense of the uncanny. Through the use of unexpected juxtapositions, of subject with object, of the seen and the implied, and an exaggerated portrayal of cartoon-like forms, her paintings are infused with a direct and deadpan humor, revealing the uncanny within the banal and the grotesque and surreal undertones of human characteristics and behavior.


A portrait of KAWS
Portrait drawing of KAWS by Phong H. Bui
For twenty-five years, Brooklyn-based artist KAWS (Brian Donnelly, American, born 1974) has bridged the worlds of art, popular culture, and commerce. Adapting the rules of cultural production and consumption in the twenty-first century, his practice both critiques and participates in consumer culture. His survey KAWS: WHAT PARTY at the Brooklyn Museum (February 26–September 5, 2021) features more than one hundred broad-ranging works, such as rarely seen graffiti drawings and notebooks, paintings and sculptures, smaller collectibles, furniture, and monumental installations of his popular COMPANION figures. It also features new pieces made uniquely for the exhibition along with his early-career altered advertisements.

Anne Pasternak

A photo of Anne Pasternak
Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
Since 2015, Anne Pasternak has served as the Shelby White and Leon Levy Director of the Brooklyn Museum, one of the oldest and largest fine arts institutions in the nation. Prior to joining the Brooklyn Museum, Anne served as the President and Artistic Director of Creative Time for two decades, collaborating with hundreds of artists including Nick Cave, Paul Chan, Jenny Holzer, and Kara Walker, commissioning and presenting works that ranged from sculptural installations in Grand Central Station’s Vanderbilt Hall to the Tribute in Light, the twin beacons of light that illuminated the sky above the former World Trade Center site, and continue to be presented on the anniversaries of 9/11.

Peter Saul

Portrait drawing of Peter Saul
Portrait drawing of Peter Saul by Phong H. Bui
Born in San Francisco in 1934, Peter Saul is considered one of the fathers of Pop Art. He is known for his distinctly colorful and cartoonish paintings which satirize American culture. His use of childlike marks and clashing colors are meant to both disturb and engage the viewer. In his over fifty year career, Saul has depicted the most pressing issues of society in a manner that destroys pretensions, exposes artificiality, and heightens awareness. Saul was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1993 and received the Artists’ Legacy Foundation Award in 2008 and the Francis J. Greenburger Award in 2013. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2010.

Jason Rosenfeld

A black and white photo of Jason Rosenfeld
Distinguished Chair and Professor of Art History at Marymount Manhattan College Jason Rosenfeld, Ph.D., has curated the exhibitions John Everett Millais (Tate Britain, Van Gogh Museum), Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde (Tate Britain and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), and River Crossings (Olana and Cedar Grove, Hudson and Catskill, New York). He is a co-author of the monograph Cecily Brown (Phaidon, 2020), and a Senior Writer and Editor-at-Large for the Brooklyn Rail.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Gabrielle Bates reading.

Gabrielle Bates

A Portrait of Gabrielle Bates
Writer and visual artist originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Gabrielle Bates’s debut collection JUDAS GOAT is forthcoming from Tin House in 2023. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry magazine, Ploughshares, APR, Virginia Quarterly Review, New England Review, Gulf Coast, Mississippi Review, Black Warrior Review, Best of the Net, and BAX: Best American Experimental Writing. Her poetry comics have been featured internationally. Bates currently serves as the Social Media Manager of Open Books: A Poem Emporium, a contributing editor for Bull City Press, and a University of Washington teaching fellow. With Luther Hughes and Dujie Tahat, she co-hosts the podcast The Poet Salon →

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.