Arnold Mesches: The FBI Files

  • Jun 19, 2010 – Sep 5, 2010
  • The Leah Louise B. Tannenbaum Gallery, The Louise D. and Herbert S. Falk, Sr. Gallery

Did you know?

Arnold Mesches worked in Hollywood's movie industry during the 1940s and 1950s, which may explain his tendency to place images within a stage-like setting.

The F.B.I. watched the artist Arnold Mesches for 27 years. From 1945 to 1972, they analyzed his political and social activities, and engaged friends, neighbors, and even a lover as informants, compiling a 760-page dossier on him. Eleven years ago, Mesches obtained access to the files under the Freedom of Information Act, and turned them into art. The F.B.I. Files consists of provocative, layered collages that have often been described as “contemporary illuminated manuscripts.” The exhibition at the Weatherspoon includes a selection of collages from the overall project as well as large-scale paintings inspired by the experience.

Mesches (b. 1923, Bronx, New York) attended the Art Center School in Los Angeles in the early 1940s. His work has been shown internationally and is included in major public collections, including the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo; the High Museum, Atlanta; the Denver Art Museum; the Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Weatherspoon Art Museum. The full exhibition, The F.B.I. Files, toured nationally from 2002-2005, and it seems timely to revisit the project at this juncture in our political landscape. 


Related Programming:

Artist Lecture: Arnold Mesches - Tuesday, August 31, 5 pm


WAM in the Press:

Go Triad, Aug 26, 2010: Private FBI Files Turned into Art



We have six galleries located on the first and second levels of the museum, view our gallery map.