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The Medium Is the Message: Art since 1950
Collection Rotation

The Medium Is the Message: Art since 1950

February 23, 2019–February 28, 2021


Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz (Edward Kienholz: U.S.A., 1927–1994; Nancy Kienholz: U.S.A., b. 1943), The Billionaire Deluxe, 1977. Metal, Fresnel lens system, light bulb, and solid-state electronic second counter. Gift of the Marmor Foundation (Drs. Michael and Jane Marmor) from the collection of Drs. Judd and Katherine Marmor, 2007.57

Pigott Family Gallery (142)

Not currently on view. Reopens August 25, 2021.
Enjoy the virtual tour.


It is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.
—Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium Is the Message”

Using works created since 1950, this exhibition explores the relationship between subject, content, and the materials that informed each object’s production. 

The exhibition is divided into three broad categories that explore the notion of “medium” in its various contexts: a means of communication, the materials from which an art object is created, and a mediating apparatus between objects and subjects.

“In the Abstract,” explores how paint, metal, and fabric can be used as means of abstract communication. “The Sum of Its Parts” explores how artists have used nontraditional art materials for critical and expressive inquiry. Lastly, “The Faces We Present” reconsiders the limits of figural representation, investigating how portraiture can serve as a mediating apparatus between the past and the present. 

Viewed collectively, these works suggest that an exploration of medium is one way of challenging dominant discourses around art, culture, and history.

Read the Stanford Arts story about the exhibition.

The Medium is the Message: Art since 1950 Virtual Tour

Virtual Tour

Immerse yourself in a 360-degree tour of this exhibition, which explores the relationship between subject, content and material

Take Virtual Tour
Lonnie Holley In Conversation with Aleesa Alexander

Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander in Conversation with Lonnie Holley

Atlanta-based artist and musician Lonnie Holley (b. 1950) visited the Cantor in March 2019, enlivening audiences with an in-gallery conversation with Assistant Curator of American Art, Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, and concert. The event took place inside the exhibition, The Medium Is the Message: Art since 1950, which featured four previously unexhibited works by the artist.

Born in Birmingham, his experimental practice is driven by a desire to record history, teach others, and create art anywhere and everywhere. His visual art has been exhibited at a number of prestigious institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the White House.

Entirely self-taught, Holley’s musical style is completely improvisational and imbued with personal narrative, with roots in jazz, soul, and funk. This program marked the first time Holley’s art and music has been featured at Stanford.

Watch Conversation

Visit Us

The Cantor is open to the public, Wednesdays–Sundays 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. We’re always free. Advance registration is not required, but it helps us plan if we know who's coming.

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The Cantor Arts Center is located at the intersection of Museum Way and Lomita Drive in the heart of the arts district on the Stanford campus. The Cantor faces the Bing Concert Hall across Palm Drive, northwest of The Oval and the Main Quad.

328 Lomita Drive at Museum Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5060

How to Get Here


Parking is limited. Stanford has a new contactless process to pay for parking, using the ParkMobile app, website, or phone. Prior to your visit, we recommend you visit the Stanford Transportation website to learn more about the updated visitor parking process.

Parking Rates and Map
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