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January/February 2014
Vol. 33 No. 1

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.

Al-Riwaq Exhibition Space, Doha, Qatar: Damien Hirst
Through January 22, 2014
Imitated, parodied, reviled, and exalted, Hirst is the art world media icon par excellence. In spite of the bad-boy tactics and opportunistic courting of hype, he explores serious themes—the process of life and death, the lies we tell and the desires we indulge to mask our fears of the inevitable. The celebrity, luxury materials, and wealth associated with his media image only underscore the message of his preserved animal corpses and medical/pharmaceutical display cases containing not miracle cures or everlasting youth but instruments of pain and mortality. This survey brings together key works from the last 20 years, featuring a group of seminal sculptures that demonstrate a surprisingly practical philosophy: “Art’s about invention, and we are all desperately trying to invent a better future and to learn from the past.” Hirst’s major new commission, The Miraculous Journey (outside Doha’s Sidra Medical and Research Center), reverses his usual perspective on the life cycle. Fourteen monumental bronzes follow human gestation from conception to birth, attempting to chart the mysteries of existence.
Web site www.qma.org.qa

Damien Hirst, The Miraculous Journey.
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska: Mel Ziegler
Through March 1, 2014
TZiegler, together with his late partner Kate Ericson, helped to change the face of public art, introducing integrated practice and community engagement as vital contemporary forms. Using ordinary materials—books, lumber, house paint, jars, and tap water—their projects transformed unnoticed aspects of public life into tools of social commentary. Ziegler continues to devise subtle alterations to physical and mental landscapes, employing idiosyncratic wit to illuminate mainstream issues and local concerns. “American Conversation” brings together recent works that explode cultural hierarchies and connect iconic cornerstones of American mythology and identity—the flag, guns, agricultural landscapes, and rural life. From documentation of ephemeral events staged in the Midwest after 2012’s historic drought to gun sculptures and an inventory of American monuments (both produced in collaboration with his 12-year-old twins), these interrelated works expose an increasingly fragmented American experience, characterized by deep distress and stubborn optimism.
Web site www.bemiscenter.org


Mel Ziegler, Lesson Learned.
Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, New York: Tony Feher
Through February 9, 2014
Feher’s works challenge conventions through apparent ordinariness. Mining the world’s limitless supply of consumer detritus, he selects his humble components with care and attention, turning the generic and ubiquitous into the specific and unique. In his eyes, everything has potential; his job is to find “the ‘trick’ in materials, that indescribable something that allows me to exploit an object for my own purposes…a little something that sets it off.” This survey of 60 sculptures reveals the unusual optimism behind Feher’s project, which embraces fragility, transience, and emotion. Instead of social critique, he offers moments of solace in which order and beauty replace chaos and ugliness. Teasing out character and inimitable formal possibilities in what the rest of us dismiss as valueless, these highly personal works celebrate the power of creativity and the ability to see differently, beyond accepted norms and definitions. Web site www.bronxmuseum.org

Tony Feher, Take It Up With Tut.
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC: Mia Feuer
Through February 23, 2014
For the past several years, Feuer has traveled to oil extraction sites around the world to create work that responds to the social and environmental effects of extreme drilling, fracking, and other hubristic gambles in energy production. In 2011 and 2012, she gained restricted access to an oil production plant in the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, where she encountered a nightmarishly reshaped ecosystem. Her new multi-part project, An Unkindness (the title also refers to a gathering of ravens), draws on this haunting vision of nature consumed and twisted by human greed. Inspired by her experiences in Canada, the Arctic Circle, and the Suez Canal, Feuer explores the relationship between human infrastructure and the natural world in a series of immersive installations at once topical and deeply personal, including a modified dog sled and a synthetic black (oil slick) skating rink open to the public in the museum’s rotunda.
Web site www.corcoran.org


Mia Feuer, photo of industrial forms, Longyearbyen.
Fondation Beyeler, Basel: Thomas Schütte
Through February 2, 2014
Schütte’s installations, sculptures, architectural models, paintings, and drawings challenge the fundamental premises of contemporary life. His work presents a strange hybrid, joining different modes of visual expression while creating contradictory and illusory worlds, without ever losing sight of the socio-political status quo. Perhaps best known for his radically simplified and exaggerated models (Model for a Hotel topped Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth in 2008), his emotionally potent figural sculptures, including the “Frauen” and the “Zombies,” take a different tack, exploring human isolation, vulnerability, and hopelessness with bitter humor. This show, which focuses on his familiar, yet deformed and alien figures, features indoor and outdoor sculptures, as well as drawings and watercolors that capture the ambivalence, tension, and conflict behind individual and global fragility.
Web site www.fondationbeyeler.ch


Thomas Schütte, Me Memorial.
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg: Gego
Through March 2, 2014
Gego (who was born in Hamburg) occupies a special place in the history of South American Constructivist and kinetic art between the 1950s and ’80s. Her constructions—abstract drawings, prints, and wire sculptures rooted in strategies of modularity, repetition, and dispersal—create a mutable geometry that defies traditional definitions of sculpture. Following a course of linear fluctuations, these works become increasingly more fragile, ephemeral, and decentered. “Line as Object,” the artist’s first exhibition in Germany, brings together approximately 120 works that clarify the recurring rhythms of Gego’s line, unifying her work across media and time.
Web site www.hamburger-kunsthalle.de

Gego, Reticulárea.
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg: Eva Hesse
Through March 2, 2014
Hesse’s legacy of Minimalist seriality and nontraditional materials pushed to achieve new modes of expression continues to be a driving force for many artists working today. Her still-powerful sculptures evoke emotion, absence, and contingency, generating a visceral punch completely lacking in the more austere domains of Minimalism. Celebrated for these ground-breaking, mixed-media works, Hesse (who, like Gego, was born in Hamburg) was also an accomplished and prolific draftsman. “One More than One” focuses on rarely seen sculptures and drawings from the latter part of her short career—the highly productive phase from 1966 until her death in 1970—revealing the dialogue between drawing and sculpture that defined her working process, as drawn line migrates from the page into three-dimensional space.
Web site www.hamburger-kunsthalle.de


Eva Hesse, Repetition Nineteen, III.
Madison Square Park, New York: Giuseppe Penone
Through February 9, 2014
For Penone, the tree is the perfect artwork, its form determined by, synonymous with, and inseparable from its forces of life and growth. Since the late ’60s, he has studied the relationship between vital energy (the tree) and obstacle (stone)—how the will embodied in the tree adjusts to and overcomes any impediment, going over, under, around, and through whatever hinders its progress. The three bronze trees in “Ideas of Stone” take this ordinary miracle and make it palpably manifest. The granite boulders impossibly balanced high up in their branches mark successive points of adjustment, accentuating the principles governing growth and form and rendering them visible. The sinuous contrapposto of a trunk or the fork in a limb can now be seen as direct expressions of a struggle between opposing entities (verticality and gravity), the sculpture recording nothing less than the shaping of a life. In these works, bronze once again lives up to its ancient reputation as an animating force, fossilizing a moment in an unfolding temporal drama so that we can understand its beauty.
Web site www.madisonsquarepark.org


Giuseppe Penone, Idee di pietra.
Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Boston: Alison Saar
Through March 8, 2014

Sophisticated commentaries on family, spirituality, and race, Saar’s powerful found-object-encrusted figures allude to a rich variety of references and subjects, infusing his­tor- ­ical stereotypes with contemporary meanings. Artistic traditions from the Americas to Africa and beyond inform these paradoxical responses to the black and white delineations of political and social forces, holding their contradictions in a powerful visual tension. Material histories and associations, everyday experience, ritual, mythology, and the stark sculptural simplicity of German Expres­­sionism coalesce in works of primal intensity that critique accepted behaviors and social injustices. In addition to Saar’s familiar figures, this show features four recent installations (made during a residency at Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle) that venture into new formal and symbolic territory.
Web site www.massart.edu

Alison Saar, Weight.

MAXXI, Rome: Jan Fabre
Through February 16, 2014
Visual artist, playwright, and stage director, Fabre explores the permeable border between reality and dream, creating impressive fantasy works reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch. His bizarre mix of animal and human metamorphoses, use of unusual and uncanny materials, and eye for the theatrical tableau reveal a world difficult to measure by conventional artistic standards. His installations range from the stunningly gorgeous to the chillingly disturbing—effects made all the more visceral by a seamless interlocking of borrowed and experienced images. “Stigmata” focuses on his actions and performances from 1976 through 2013; more than 800 documents, drawings, models, films, sculptures, and performance relics span the range of his mythical world, from medieval visions to contemporary capitalist nightmares, from quasi-religious fervor to post-scientific skepticism.
Web site www.fondazionemaxxi.it


Jan Fabre, Ilad of the Bic-Art, The Bic-Art Room.
Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid: Roman Ondák
Through February 23, 2014
COne of the most significant neo-conceptualists to emerge in recent years, Ondák creates recursive interventions that impact the real world through contextual shifts and poetic mises-en-scène. By constantly transferring (contradictory) meanings and introducing unexpected actions and elements in incongruous places, he manages to disrupt ordinary perceptual balance. At the 2009 Venice Bien­nale, for instance, he transplanted a copy of the Giardini’s landscaping into the Czech and Slovak pavilion. Domestic rites inflated into public events, public rituals enacted to no end, and slippages through supposedly impenetrable boundaries—Ondák employs all of these strategies and more in his micro-disturbances. Though almost invisible, his new site-specific work, Scene, completely alters the experience of the Reina Sofia’s Palacio de Cristal. A perfectly camouflaged, elevated walkway surrounds the building, opening up unstable rifts in the balance between viewer and viewed, object and protagonist, reality and delusion.
Web site www.museoreinasofia.es

Roman Ondák, Loop.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago: The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology
Through March 9, 2014
Over the last two decades, contemporary art has embraced archaeology as literal practice and metaphorical tool of critique. By digging up the relics of the past—whether artifacts, repressed memories, or forgotten histories—artists engaged in archival research, documentation, and museological display attempt to correct what curator Dieter Roelstraete calls our “cultural pathology of forgetting.” “The Way of the Shovel” re-imagines the art world as an alternative History Channel dedicated to challenging received historical narratives and uncovering alternative perspectives. Featured documentarians include Phil Collins, Moyra Davey, Tacita Dean, Mark Dion, Stan Douglas, Deimantas Narkevicius, Anri Sala, Hito Steyerl, and Ana Torfs, while Mariana Castillo Deball, Cyprien Gaillard, Daniel Knorr, Jean-Luc Moulène, Michael Rakowitz, and Simon Starling question the often politicized relationship between objects and truth. Two “exhibitions within the exhibition” focus on Robert Smithson as the ur-model for artist as researcher and explore psychoanalysis as an archaeology of the mind.
Web site www.mcachicago.org

Daniel Knorr, The State of Mind, from “The Way of the Shovel.”

Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami: Tracey Emin
Through March 9, 2014
Now a fixture of the contemporary art establishment, Emin achieved tabloid notoriety in the early ’90s for intensely confessional works that tapped into the mainstream of tell-all public consciousness. Her installations, sculptures, embroidered blankets, neon pieces, and works on paper disclosed private autobiographical details with provocative abandon. A Louise Bourgeois for the postmodern set, Emin pioneered a new direction in feminist themes, exploring the barely charted territory of rape, promiscuity, and abortion. Even as her subjects have mellowed, she maintains the same cathartic, yet analytical and unsentimental approach to personal revelation. This exhibition, which focuses on her neon works, explores how the medium has played an essential role in her development, marking a shift from the early diaristic style to a more cryptic and open-ended form of expression.
Web site www.mocanomi.org

Tracey Emin, Angel without You.

Museum of Modern Art, New York: Isa Genzken
Through March 10, 2014
Genzken’s assemblages create suggestive fusions of Modernist aspiration and blatant materialism. Beginning with the aerodynamic, incised wood sculptures of the 1970s through her recent delicate installations, she has created a body of work symbolizing the tightrope act that we all perform, balancing between beauty and destruction, grace and brutality. With social, political, and economic conditions constantly in mind, she reveals the bewildering and contradictory sides of human knowledge and perception by questioning things that we take for granted. Her scrutiny extends to the parameters of sculpture itself, as she probes the meaning of the three-dimensional object while adding an emotional charge. This retrospective gathers a selection of nearly 150 works—from small diorama-like sculptures to room- filling installations—all issuing a challenge to the traditional language of found objects and claiming an unusual position in contemporary art.
Web site www.moma.org

Isa Genzken, Disco Soon (Ground Zero).

MoMA PS1, Queens, New York: Mike Kelley
Through February 2, 2014
Once the enfant terrible of L.A., Kelley became one of the most influential artists of recent decades, a contemporary Virgil guiding us through the realms of pop culture, Modernist tradition, and the uncanny. This retrospective brings together almost 200 works, dating from the 1970s to his untimely death last year, filling the entire PS1 building with every conceivable mode of artistic expression. Sculpture, drawing, performance, music, video, photography, and painting—Kelley used all means necessary to explore the conditions of his moment in time, as well as his place in it. His prolific output barely manages to contain all the repressed memories, adolescent angst, and political anger crammed into its confines, spaces further crowded by the spec­ters of institutional power and personal hindsight. Yet through the lurking fears and disjunctions, the relentless self-examination and critique, and the fault lines between sacred and profane, there is a glimpse of something transcendent, a remaking of a flawed world through humor, courage, and creativity.
Web site momaps1.org

Mike Kelley, Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites.

Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas: Nasher XChange
Through February 16, 2014
The Nasher Sculpture Center is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a citywide public art exhibition that features 10 new commissions by 10 international artists. As much about the city of Dallas as it is about public art, “Nasher XChange” worked with the artists to identify a variety of geographical, social, historical, and environmental sites. Lara Almar­cegui, Rachel Harrison, Alfredo Jaar, Charles Long, Liz Larner, Rick Lowe, Vicki Meek, Ruben Ochoa, Ugo Rondinone, and Good/Bad Art Collective represent a wide range of practices in contemporary sculpture and radically different approaches to public art. From Lowe’s Trans.lation, which has forged a collaboration between an eclectic team of community organizers, designers, artists, and the residents of Vickery Meadow, to Rondinone’s vibrantly colored, wooden pier on the shore of Fish Trap Lake, which creates a meditative place of immersion on the site of a 19th-century utopian community, these projects offer a snapshot of public art today and a vision of new possibilities for the future.
Web site www.nashersculpturecenter.org

Lara Almarcegui, Buried House (in progress), from “Nasher XChange.”

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia: Barbara Chase-Riboud
Through January 20, 2014
Chase-Riboud conceived the first of her “Malcolm X” works in early 1969, drawing on her experiences in France, North Africa, and China. Combining cast bronze with wrapped skeins of silk and wool, these over life-size sculptures allude to the presence of a figure—a totemic warrior of contradictory complexity. The balances struck between dualisms—vertical and horizontal, mineral and organic, male and female, rigid armor and supple drapery—take on new resonance in the context of the American Civil Rights Movement, offering a powerful model of integration and harmonization. This show features five stele from the series, as well as related sculptures and a group of exquisite charcoal drawings that reveal an equally sensitive union of diverse references, textures, and forms.
Web site www.philamuseum.org

Chase-Riboud, Malcolm X #3.

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut: Nicola Hicks
Through March 9, 2014
Since the ’80s, Hicks has ignored art world trends to pursue a contemporary form of figurative, predominately animal sculpture. Her vital, empathic creatures capture something of the physical and psychological power of living beings. Sometimes realistic specimens, sometimes imaginary impossibilities, they reanimate a once moribund tradition. Rapidly executed in straw and plaster, and often life-size, her bears, donkeys, lions, and metamorphosed humans retain an essential spark of energy and spontaneity, even when painstakingly cast in bronze. This exhibition features seven recent sculptures by Hicks installed along with a group of 18th- and early 19th-century paintings from Yale’s collection. Her selections—from Stubbs and Landseer to Agasse and Chalon—underscore her drive to find an emotional expression that acknowledges and respects a shared life force.
Web site britishart.yale.edu

Nicola Hicks, Foal.


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