International Sculpture Center
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April 2014
Vol. 33 No. 3

A publication of the
International Sculpture Center

This selection of shows has been curated by Sculpture magazine editorial staff and includes just a few of the great shows around the world.

The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia: Yinka Shonibare
Through April 21, 2014
Shonibare’s objects, photographs, and installations take on issues of economic history and cultural authen­ticity. From the goods and fashions of Victorian England to African fabrics (manufactured for the colonial trade), he restores nuance and irony to unambiguously categorized cultural icons, replacing stereotypes with layered meaning. This show features 17 works focused on themes of education, opportunity, and scientific inquiry—all problematized, of course, with a sly undercurrent of identity construction, class, integration, and assimilation. Magic Ladders—the foun­da­tion’s first commission since Albert C. Barnes ordered The Dance from Matisse in 1930—may innocently evoke empowerment through knowledge, but learning is not always neutral: for every aspiring child climbing a ladder of books, another absorbs darker lessons of domination, exploitation, and destruction.
Web site www.barnesfoundation.org


Yinka Shonibare,“Magic Ladders.”.
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas: Robert Smithson
Through April 27, 2014

Straddling Land Art and Minimalism, Smithson’s defiance of conventions has had a lasting impact on contemporary art and the cultural landscape. His non-traditional materials—language, mirrors, maps, dump trucks, abandoned quarries, hotels, and earth—helped move art out of the museum and into the wider sphere of experience. This show focuses on five projects that he developed for Texas in the years between his Dallas-Fort Worth Airport project (1966–67) and his only realized work in the state, Amarillo Ramp (1973), including proposals for Houston’s Gulf Coast and Dallas’ Northwood Institute. More than 25 lesser-known drawings, photographs, and sculptures illuminate a productive period of his career, accompanied by a new video, The Making of Amarillo Ramp, by Nancy Holt, based on original footage from 1973.
Web site www.dma.org

Robert Smithson, maquette for Texas.

Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt: Being Here & Being Thus: Sculpture, Object & Stage
Through April 13, 2014
Though the world of things seems to be dissolving, dispersed into the immaterial, digitized ether, this breakdown is not without an accompanying backlash—the so-called “material turn” cited in cultural critique and the social sciences. Sculpture is no less divided than the world at large, splitting into denizens of the virtual and upholders of the physical. “Being Here” brings together works by nine sculptors who reassess the status of materials and objects. Employing scale man­ipulations and conjoining unusual, reworked elements in odd juxtapositions, Maria Anisimowa, Peter Buggenhout, Sandra Havlicek, Sofia Hultén, Sabine Kuehnle, Thomas Moecker, Simon Rübesamen, Michael E. Smith, and Andrea Winkler are creating a new formal language based on a confrontation between things as they are and the aesthetic aura of materials. Explorations of “sculpture,” “object,” and “stage,” their agglomerations of cast, folded, glued, carved, and otherwise altered source matter share a sense of immediacy, conveying an expressive presence that asserts being while referring to nothing beyond itself.
Web Site www.fkv.de

Sabine Kuehnle, Female Metamorphosis.
Haus der Kunst, Munich: Abraham Cruzvillegas
Through May 25, 2014
Cruzvillegas’s thought-provoking arrangements of disparate, apparently unrelated objects employ everything from feathers and studio props to bowling balls, candles, leaves, and other everyday finds. The volatile energy that pervades his work re-creates the life of Mexico City’s streets, flirting with popular culture, television, music, advertising, and flea markets. This show features recent installments in his long-running project, Autoconstrucción, which integrates an interest in form and matter with the physical landscape of Ajusco (an area of volcanic rock south of Mexico City). As Cruzvillegas explains it, Autoconstrucción, or self-construction, operates as a metaphor for individual identity and the unfinished, changing character of place. Privileging improvisation and alternative economic systems that value craft, the handmade, and strategies of making do, his work demonstrates an empowering notion of “survival economics” and solidarity in the face of globalized power..
Web site www.hausderkunst.de


Abraham Cruzvillegas, Autoconstrucción: Fragment: Lattice Bureau
Hayward Gallery, London: Martin Creed
Through April 27, 2014
Beginning with small objects that could be placed anywhere, Creed has taken a provocative stance toward art, questioning its very nature and challenging taboos. His works assume a multitude of forms, employing sculpture, painting, neon, film, installation, sound, and performance. Whether they appear in galleries or in broader public cir­culation, these rigorous, yet humorous gestures and objects respond to the inherent logic of everyday materials and ubiquitous things, coalescing in unexpected sequences based on undisclosed principles or limits. “What’s the point of it?,” his first major retrospective, features works from the ’80s to the present, including several new large-scale installations and sculptures—most dramatically, a monumental brick wall. Continually disrupting and overturning expectations, these med­itations on the invisible structures that shape our lives reflect unease in the face of choice and comfort in repetition, as well as the desire (and inevitable failure) to control the accidents of existence.
Web site www.southbankcentre.co.uk


Martin Creek, Work no. 1092..
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar: Mona Hatoum
Through May 18, 2014
Hatoum transforms everyday domestic objects into uncanny sculptures that harbor a nagging sense of displacement, uncertainty, and conflict. No longer reassuring spaces of protection, her domestic territories subvert familiar forms such as chairs, beds, and kitchen implements while reconfiguring clean, Minimalist forms into ciphers of ambiguity and threat. In her surreal terrains, even the human body becomes strangely unfamiliar and disassociated. This show features more than 70 works from the last 30 years, from small works on paper and sculptures to room-size installations, including Turbulence (2012), a four-meter field of glass marbles that continues an ongoing investigation into the transformation of the ordinary at the intersection of the poetic and the political.
Web site www.mathaf.org.qa


Mona Hatoum, Bunker.
Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, Detroit: Artists in Residence
Through May 25, 2014
The Mattress Factory is celebrating its 35th anniversary with an exhibition that revives the edgy creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that characterized its founding. Detroit-based Design 99 (Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope), Jessica Frelinghuysen, Scott Hocking, Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller, Russ Orlando, and Frank Pahl are all known for works that respond to the socio-economic problems dogging their city. During their residency period in Pittsburgh (no stranger to rapid urban depopulation and decay; the city was devastated by the demise of the steel industry), these artists opted to continue ongoing projects and investigations devoted to a new vision of post-industrial urban life. Though their ideas originate in the neighborhoods of Detroit, they are adaptable to any city that needs to reinvent itself.
Web site www.mattress.org


Scott Hocking, Ziggurat..
The Menil Collection, Houston: Lee Bontecou
Through May 11, 2014
Bontecou, who vaulted to prominence in 2003 after decades of self-imposed art world exile, is a master of line as well as three-dimensional form. Both her sculptures and drawings—executed in everything from pencil and pastel to soot—attest to her preoccupation with “the natural world and its wonders and horrors.” “Drawn Worlds,” her first retrospective of drawings, features more than 70 works from the past 55 years that evoke unsettling realms of human folly and the frailty of the natural environment. A vital component of her sculptural practice and independent works that stand on their own as vehicles of imagination, these works on paper, muslin, and canvas are as experimental as the sculptures themselves in their imagery and techniques. Richly evocative black holes, morphing Ror­schach hybrids of man and nature, and threatening landscapes re-imagine biological, geological, technological, and celestial creation, encompassing “as much of life as possible—no barriers—no boundaries—all freedom in every sense.”
Web site www.menil.org


Lee Bontecou, Untitled
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Antonio Canova
Through April 27, 2014

Canova’s reputation as the greatest of all Neoclassical sculptors rests on his exquisitely carved marble nudes—refined, sensual figures (even in violent motion) that breathe new life into the antique. The mythological tour de force is only one inflection of his sculptural language, however; he could also work in a decep­­tively minimal mode of austere simplicity that conceals a deeply felt expressivity. “The Seven Last Works” sheds light on this less familiar Canova with a series of full-scale plaster models illustrating episodes from the Old and New Testaments. Used to review compositions before they were transferred to stone, such models played an important role in his practice. Shown for the first time in the U.S., the narrative reliefs were intended as part of a series of 32 panels for the Tempio Canoviano, the church that he built for his home town of Possagno (and later his mausoleum). At the time of his death in 1822, Canova had completed only these seven scenes, which synthesize ancient sculpture and early Renaissance masters in a strikingly linear, syncopated style.
Web site www.metmuseum.org

Antonio Canova, “The Creation of the World.”

Moderna Museet, Stockholm: Christodoulos Panayiotou
Through April 27, 2014

Drawing on a background in dance, performance, and anthropology, Panayiotou weaves together the methods of the researcher and the choreographer, often focusing on various forms of power relations and exchange. His multi-form work frequently explores the formation of cultural and national identities, with a focus on the complex history of Cyprus—for instance, a 2008 sculpture composed of all the Cypriot pound notes in circulation when the country converted to the Euro. “Days and Ages” turns to archaeology as a foundation of the modern nation state and symbol of colonial control. Archival installations trace the invention of antiquity, tradition, and folklore, while various sculptures (including a new terra-cotta floor piece produced in his hometown of Limassol with saltwater from the Mediterranean) emphasize the continuing resonance of materials and technical skill, revealing copper, gold, and glass as engines of myth and geopolitical currency driving tourism, popular culture, and development.
Web site www.modernamuseet.se


Christodoulos Panayiotou, “Days and Ages.”
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray: Framing Sculpture
Through May 11, 2014
“Framing Sculpture” follows the same trajectory as “The Original Copy” (2010), but narrows the focus to just three artists. Brancusi, Rosso, and Man Ray were foremost among their Modernist peers in understanding how the photographic techniques of crop, focus, close-up, and lighting do more than record. Though these familiar tricks can heighten documentation, they also interpret and reinvent—especially in conjunction with manipulation, collage, montage, and assemblage. With more than 40 sculptures and 100 vintage photographs, “Framing Sculpture” details how these artists altered the appearance of their three-dimensional works through mise en scène, dramatic lighting, and manipulation of photographic prints, revealing how they interpreted their sculptures and how they wanted them to be seen.
Web site www.boijmans.nl

Medardo Rosso, Child in the soup kitchen.
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans: Mel Chin
Through May 25, 2014
Chin refuses to be pinned down, hemmed in, or otherwise restricted from pursuing whatever notion fires his imagination—in whatever medium seems appropriate. Though he began his career with sculptures rooted in ancient cultures, social questions, and geopolitical issues, after a 1989 solo show at the Hirshhorn in Washington, DC, and a “living memorial” to extinct species at New York’s Central Park, he changed gears, abandoning object-making for a conceptual form of art based in botany, ecology, and hands-on collaboration. Moving fluidly from sculpture, video, drawing, and painting to land-based and performance art and new media pop culture interventions, his work has no trademark style; the common thread lies in conceptual rigor, thoughtful historicism, and a concern for social justice. This retrospective, which features approximately 70 works—including his massive interdisciplinary mobilization Operation Paydirt / The Fundred Dollar Bill Project—reflects the collaborative and viral nature of his endeavors, celebrating a practice of constant commitment based on mutation, evolution, and re-examination.
Web site www.noma.org

Mel Chin, Operation Paydirt/The Fundred Dollar Bill Project
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California: Michelle Stuart
Through April 20, 2014
Stuart, who featured in “Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers” (2008), the SculptureCenter’s landmark exhibition devoted to feminism and ’70s Land Art, tends to be overshadowed by more famous peers like Alice Aycock, Lynda Benglis, Jackie Ferrara, and Nancy Holt. This show, her first major museum exhibition in the U.S. since 1998, attempts to bring her work to a wider audience. Best known for monumental, outdoor drawings made from rolls of paper smashed with rocks, stroked with earth, and rubbed with graphite until they absorbed the characteristics of a given site, she later traded drama for subtlety. Fascinated with archaeology and collecting, her drawings, sculptures, photographs, videos, installations, and site-specific works view the natural environment and the cosmos through the frame of history, attempting to create a coherent (and shared) story of today’s world that fuses geology, cosmology, and mythology. “Rock books” and “seed drawings,” rooted in a specific location become part of a larger narrative that maps real, imaginary, and natural landscapes.
Web site www.sbma.net

Michelle Stuart, Stone Alignments/Solstice Cairns.
Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei: Xu Bing
Through April 20, 2014
Xu traces his fascination with books and language to his childhood, when his mother, who worked at the Peking University Library, frequently “locked” him in the book storeroom. Invaluable lessons also came from the communist campaign to reform the Chinese writing system, which led to his career-shaping realization that “words are something you can play with.” The written word, for him, expands to include all forms of signification: building materials from Beijing can embody a dying culture (and hope for the future), as rebar, scaffolding, conduit, shovels, hard hats, and gloves rise from the ruins as massive phoenixes; while cigarettes can reveal the dynamics of capital and labor, tracing global trade and the interplay between development and social justice. This retrospective (his first large-scale exhibi­­tion in Asia) features works from 1975 to the present—all probing the present-day limits of meaning and exchange and taking a first step toward conceiving a future human language.
Web site www.tfam.museum

Xu Bing, Ghosts Pounding the Wall.
Tate Britain, London: Richard Deacon
Through April 27, 2014
A self-described “fabricator,” Deacon neither carves nor models; instead, he constructs, using manufacturing and building techniques. For more than 40 years, he has created unique sculptures in a wide variety of materials, from laminated wood, polycarbonate, and paper to leather, cloth, and ceramic. Realized at both domestic and monumental scales, his structures combine biomorphic forms with elements of engineering, hiding none of the technical processes behind their realization. The sculptures are defined as much by the space within and around them as their innovative, dynamically interactive shapes. This retrospective, conceived in close cooperation with the artist, features 40 three-dimensional works, along with an early series of drawings (“It’s Orpheus When There’s Singing”) that played a critical role in his sculptural pursuit of motion.
Web site www.tate.org.uk

Richard Deacon, Lock.
Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing: Xu Zhen: A MadeIn Company Production
Through April 20, 2014
MadeIn Company, a Shanghai- and Beijing-based artist collective, poses as a contemporary art corporation specializing in the production of creativity. Employing up to 30 artists on a single project, the group also curates exhibitions and supports various art projects, including the on-line forum Art Ba-Ba. Its newest work is a mid-career survey of the mercurial Xu Zhen, an irreverent artist with a voracious appetite for global information and a unique ability to produce work across multiple media, including sculpture, painting, mechanized installation, video, photography, and performance. Featuring more than 50 installations, in addition to a multitude of other works, the show acknowledges the longstanding relationship between Xu’s individual practice and his assimilated identity under the auspices of MadeIn Company, which he joined in 2009 (he is now CEO). This withdrawal from his own name stands as a rejection of the persona-driven contemporary art world, while the MadeIn Company’s Xu Zhen brand acknowledges that he has always produced art through collaborative effort.
Web site www.ucca.org.cn

Xu Zhen, Eternity.
Wiels, Brussels: Franz Erhard Walther
Through May 11, 2014

Walther has created provocative meditations on art as an act of “doing” for more than 50 years. In the early 1960s, following the example of Fontana, Klein, Manzoni, and Beuys, he pursued interaction and liberation as a formal aesthetic, seeking to “conceive work out of an action.” This exhibition (one of his largest) features more than 100 works from the 1950s to the present that question the conventional idea of the artwork as an immutable, obdurate, pedestal- or wall-bound thing separated from the process that formed it and denied further evolution. Walther’s radically rethought works (many making novel use of fabric) become the locus of action, and straightforward physical acts—pressing, folding, unfolding, covering, and uncovering—become sculptural principles. The problem of sculpture, for him, is not what it looks like or what it is, but what it can do and what can be done to it. To honor his hands-on approach, “The Body Decides” includes numerous Handlungsstücke (Action Pieces) and Werkstücke (Work Pieces) open to viewer manipulation, in addition to several workshops and participatory work demonstrations led by the artist.
Web site www.wiels.org

Franz Erhard Walther, Body Weights.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park,West Bretton, Wakefield, U.K: Tom Price
Through April 27, 2014

Though they hark back to classical sculpture, Price’s bronze figurines and claymation portraits clearly belong to the present. Inspired by art history, observation, and media imagery, he is rapidly establishing a reputation for technical mastery, but there’s a twist to his use of this venerable material. Instead of idealized heroes and gods, he gives us representatives of “the man in the street,” ordinary black men with slumped shoulders and sagging stomachs, whose body language speaks volumes about urban life. Often nude, his subjects (composite portraits) simply stand and stare, but they are far from mute. Small, psychologically penetrating details betray specific experiences and contexts that elude stereotypes, forcing us to confront real-life decisions of who we do and don’t choose to look at and why.
Web site www.ysp.co.uk

Tom Price, Network.

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