Scott Covert: I Had a Wonderful Life

On view November 20, 2022 through June 25, 2023

SC1127OP Scott Covert Philip Guston The Colorful One 2021
I Had a Wonderful Life is the first solo museum exhibition dedicated to artist Scott Covert (b.1954, Edison, NJ.). This presentation of Covert’s 40-year-long practice will center on his Monument Paintings, which the artist began making in 1985. Covert, a legendary figure within the eighties East Village art scene, forms his abstract compositions through the Victorian tradition of grave rubbing, in which an impression is lifted from the honorary reliefs on tombstones. With the cemeteries of the world serving as his itinerant studio, Covert has dedicated his life to visiting the resting places of what he calls “people of character.”
Scott Covert, She Always Asked Why, 1996-2021, Wax oil crayon on acrylic on muslin, Collection of Raymond J. Learsy.

While some of these grave rubbings are singular, Covert’s art is distinguished by his work in which a collage of names come together to form a legendary dinner party of the dead. With a different wash of color dedicated to each luminary, the artist’s cadre builds into a seance of dazzling proportions, through an associative path of logic that is singular to the artist. Across a single canvas, the viewer may trace Covert’s journeys to the graves of Nikita Kruschev, Serge Gainsbourg, Gram Parsons, Eva Peron, Louis B. Mayer and Mies van der Rohe. Each name represents a moment in time, in which the artist has journeyed from Russia to Argentina, Montparnasse to Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Kansas City to Biloxi and back again, through interminable crossings and stretches of time: sometimes weeks, sometimes years.

Scott Covert In This Thing Together Blue Columbarium 1999 2021

The title of this exhibition is taken from the headstone of the quintessential aristocrat, Brooke Astor. These final words are not mournful, but joyous. Their uplifting sentiment resonates with Covert’s attitude towards his art. Each work is a celebration, a signifier of life, memory and profound experience.

This exhibition is curated by the Museum’s Bryant-Taylor Curator, Ariella Wolens

Click below to access the biographies for all individuals featured in Covert’s exhibited paintings.

Installation images by Steven Brooke.