Louis Zoellar Bickett II

Louis Zoellar Bickett, Augie and Pinch's Comb, August 15, 2009, Dog brush with tag, 7 x 2.5 inches (approx.).

Louis Zoellar Bickett II: Selections from the Archive

October 15 – November 30, 2009

Since 1972, Louis Zoellar Bickett has meticulously collected and catalogued items from his daily life and assembled them into a functioning installation he refers to as: THE ARCHIVE. Photographs, dinner receipts, dog brushes, jars, binders and items of every sort are tagged and neatly placed within the 3-D collage that serves as home and studio to the artist. The archive’s contents are seemingly endless and infinitely varied.

Bickett’s genius lies in his ability to transform the most basic object into a highly sophisticated work of art using a simple associative process. The collection, organization and archiving of everyday objects imbues them with significance beyond function or simple metaphor. Every object is tagged with a name and date, corresponding to a set of events, an idea or some larger ongoing project. The object’s viewer knows precisely what it is, where it’s from, why it was purchased, the name of its previous owner or the role that it plays in the artist’s life. Its placement within the archive further secures its importance and guarantees its survival. Sculptures, photographs and paintings are tagged in the same manner (and with the same precision) as ashlights, bowling bags and hats. Certain objects are “tagged” or “stamped” several times to reflect their inclusion in several projects. The debate about “what is art” is clearly answered in Bickett’s process: anything I choose.

Selections from the Archive was a quick glance at a seemingly random sampling of objects. It was not intended to be a retrospective or an accounting of various projects. Indeed there are too many for an exhibition of this size. The intention was rather to select objects that resonate with simplicity and illuminate the artist’s transformative abilities, while hinting at the larger themes of sex, identity and death that permeate Bickett’s work. Furiously collecting and archiving towards death, Bickett has become the central object of the archive—missing only the tag he will receive, not unlike the rest of us, upon his own death. 

Installation View

Installation View

Installation View

About the Artist:

Louis Zoellar Bickett is a three-time recipient of the Kentucky Al Smith Fellowship and a YADDO Fellowship recipient. He has exhibited in numerous venues around the world and is a published critic and poet. He maintains a studio and The Archive Louis Zoellar Bickett in Lexington, KY. This is his debut exhibition at Institute 193.


Louis Zoellar Bickett at 66: artistic acclaim and a death sentence by Cheryl Truman, Lexington Herald Leader, August 31, 2016

Creative Types: Louis Bickett – Photographer, Collector & Serial Archivist by Celeste Lewis, Chevy Chaser Magazine, March 2, 2016