David Zwirner is pleased to present the group exhibition Happy Days are Here Again, curated by André Schlechtriem. As curator of the Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, Mr. Schlechtriem surveyed the work of more than 1000 contemporary artists in the United States and abroad over the last year. This exhibition represents an international selection of mostly younger contemporary artists, many of which have never shown in New York. Alternately, some artists have been included in more established contemporary art surveys: Ernesto Caivano, Christian Holstad, and Hernan Bas were included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial; Amelie von Wulffen exhibited in the 2003 Venice Biennial, the 2004 Berlin Biennale, and is currently included in Manifesta 5.
The title for the exhibition is derived from an unabashedly utopian campaign song for Theodore Roosevelt’s 1932 presidential race, composed in 1929 by Jack Yellin and Milton Ager. Contrary to the sentimentality expressed within the original song lyrics, many of the artists in the exhibition have created work that is in reaction to the current, darker days; with an on-going war in Iraq, international fears of terrorism, global environmental crises, and perennial injustice within third world countries, many younger artists have returned to a more figurative neo-romanticism to express their idiosyncratic view of the world. Sometimes dark and sometimes self-consciously oblivious, the work in this show represents how younger artists are attempting to come to terms with the challenges characteristic of the young 21st century. At the same time, this exhibition represents a selection from a new generation of artists, one that provides hope and promise for what is to come. While the work may be a symptom of a troubled world, its mere existence brings a sense of optimism that a new generation is aware.
Happy Days are Here Again exists in a series of other group exhibitions held at David Zwirner in the past: Sampler (1994); Someone else with my Fingerprints (1997); Conceptual Photography from the 1960s and 1970s (1998); Video library (1998); I Love New York (2001); New York ca. 1975 (summer 2001); and Bright Lights, Big City (2004). With its investigation of a younger generation of art, Happy Days are Here Again brings the historical progression of group shows at David Zwirner up to the contemporary day. While New York ca. 1975 grouped together artists working with diverse media in the 1970s, and Bright Lights, Big City examined trends in contemporary art during the 1980s, Happy Days looks to the new generation of artists, and proposes what we are to expect in the future.