Julian Montague: Projects is a mid-career retrospective of the artist, graphic designer, and photographer’s work. This is the first time that examples from all of Montague’s different bodies of work will be presented together.
Since the late 1990s, Montague has been making art, with a multidisciplinary approach and an undercurrent of existential humor. Montague’s artwork takes many different forms, from multi-year conceptual investigations, to making ephemera for a fictional 1970s art institution, to hard-edged abstract paintings. Much of his work is concerned with exploring (and perhaps undermining) the systems of order that we use to make sense of the natural and human-made worlds. Works in the exhibition are executed using several mediums including painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, graphic design, fabric, and video.
The tools and visual language of graphic design play a large role in his artwork, overlapping his two practices which influence one another. A section of the exhibition will feature Montague’s client-based graphic design, including examples from his two decades of work for clients in Western New York, for the music and publishing industries, and in corporate collaborations with Continental Tires, Sonos, and Warby Parker.
The installation's centerpiece is a black-lined grid containing work from disparate projects on the curved wall at the south end of the Burchfield Penney Art Center’s East Gallery. The grid motif continues throughout the installation serving to frame and unite each body of work in the exhibition.
Montague first came to national and international attention in the mid-2000s with his Stray Shopping Cart Identification System. The project set out to create a taxonomy to identify stray shopping carts based on the situations in which they were found. The resulting system of 2 classes and 33 subtypes, and its accompanying photographic documentation, was exhibited widely at the time and was ultimately published as a book, designed by the artist, by Abrams Books in 2006. A revised edition of The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification, will be published by The University of Chicago Press in September 2023.
Montague was one of three people who followed a 120-mile bicycle route from Cleveland to Irondale, Ohio in 2018 that Charles E. Burchfield had ridden in the early 1920s. His photography and graphic design were featured prominently in the exhibition Home on My Bicycle which celebrated that tip, held at the Center in 2019.
The title of the exhibition is a nod to both to the multifaceted nature of the artist’s practice and to his nom de Internet, “Montague Projects.” In 2020 the New York Times named @montagueprojects on Instagram as one of the top five art accounts to follow. It currently has more than 123,000 followers and lists him as an artist, graphic designer, illustrator, cyclist and curator of mid-century book covers based in Buffalo, NY.
Julian Montague: Projects is presented through the generous support of The Tower Family Fund, The Vogt Family Foundation at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, and Gary & Willow Brost. As always, none of what we do would be possible without the continued generosity of our Burchfield Penney members.