International Sculpture Center
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November 2015
Vol. 34 No. 9

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.

Arnolfini Centre for Contemporary Arts, Bristol, U.K: Richard Long
Through November 15, 2015
Richard Long, Boyhood Line. Long’s walks, photographs, maps, drawings, and sculptures are as much about his personal relationship to the landscape as they are about the land itself. Like the younger generation of British environmental artists who followed in his footsteps, he focuses on the physical and perceptual interactions that arise from an individual’s presence in and passage through a particular terrain: human scale and presence remain key. “Space and Time,” which includes works on paper, sculptures, and photographic and text works from 1967 to the present, also features two major new works—a large sculpture made from Cornish slate and a wall work created with mud collected from the River Avon. In addition, Long (a Bristol native) has left another subtle path of memory and experience at The Downs in nearby Clifton; the stone trail of Boyhood Line, following the tracks of a common “desire line,” traces the freedom of a childhood (and adulthood) spent adventuring in the open countryside.

Web site www.arnolfini.org.uk


Richard Long, Boyhood Line.
The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia: Strength and Splendor Ellen Harvey
Through January 4, 2016
Ellen Harvey, Metal Painting (work-in-progress). Past meets present in these two concurrent exhibitions. “Strength and Splendor” offers highlights from the Musée le Secq des Tournelles, an encyclopedic collection of wrought iron objects assembled in the 19th century by Jean-Louis-Henri Le Secq Destournelles, the celebrated photographer of French architectural monuments, and his son Henri. Far from being out of place at the Barnes, these 150 masterworks of decorative craftsmanship from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century reinforce one of Albert Barnes’s most intriguing collections—887 pieces of European and American metalwork, which he installed as an integral part of his arrangements of old master and modern paintings. Stripped of their functional mandate, these small sculptures (everything from door knockers, garden implements, and keyhole escutcheons to locks, bas reliefs, strongboxes, surgical tools, and jewelry) created by anonymous craftsmen “as authentic” in their artistry as “Titian, Renoir, or Cézanne,” reveal considerable formal and conceptual wit, as well as the unexpected versatility of iron as it morphs from weighty heft to an impossibly fragile delicacy at odds with industrial usage. Reinforcing Barnes’s heretical transgression of art historical propriety, the Foundation commissioned Ellen Harvey, whose dimension-bending installations confound categorization, to create Metal Painting, a site-specific work that further upends institutional expectations of classification and temporal order.

Web site www.barnesfoundation.org

Ellen Harvey, Metal Painting (work-in-progress).

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston: Mona Hatoum
Through November 29, 2015
Mona Hatoum, Natura morta (Edwatdian vitrine) Hatoum transforms everyday 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 items 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 small show of some half-dozen sculptures, including the cringe-inducing Pin Rug, as well as works on paper and performance documentation, sets up an intimate encounter with Hatoum’s unruly objects, leading viewers to a crossroads where the ordinary transforms into the poetic and the political.

Web site www.icaboston.org

Mona Hatoum, Natura morta (Edwatdian vitrine).
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston: Erin Shirreff
Through November 29, 2015
Erin Shirreff, Knife. Shirreff is fascinated with problems of representation. Taking the relationship of photography and sculpture as a starting point, her work focuses on how we experience art, and how that experience changes based on whether we are looking at the real thing or a reproduced image—sad to say, the basis of most art historical study. Her process typically begins with a sculpture—one that she has created herself or the work of another artist—which she then photographs or films. The resulting works explore the complexities of representing three-dimensional objects in a two-dimensional medium, a problem that has challenged sculptors and photographers alike for the better part of a century. In this show, which includes Medardo Rosso Madame X 1896, Shirreff’s 24-minute silent film homage to another pioneer in the photographic presentation of sculpture, objects face off with their portraits, drawing viewers into a slow, purposeful process of looking at and thinking about sculpture.

Web site www.icaboston.org

Erin Shirreff, Knife.
Madison Square Park, New York: Teresita Fernández
Through January 10, 2016
Teresita Fernández, Fata Morgana. Fernández’s immersive installations and evocative large-scale sculptures distill the forces of the natural world to their simplest elements—color and light, depth and space, present and passing time—acting as screens, mirrors, and lenses that vacillate between object and perceptual exper­imentation. Stainless steel, glass, plastic, graphite, and gold seemingly dissolve into reflection and shadow in minimal and delicately balanced formations that belie the effort behind their appearance. Fata Morgana—the title alludes to an unusual type of mirage that occurs just above the horizon, as well as to Morgan Le Fay, the sorceress of Arthurian legend, also associated with the siren enchantresses of Sicily who could bend natural elements into tantalizing, and deadly, illusions—introduces a shimmering, distorting pattern into the park’s tree canopy. Floating above walkways and lawns, this mirror- polished golden spectre casts a flickering, luminous shadow over everything below, transforming a prosaic walk through the park into a visionary experience of nature’s mercurial magic.

Web site www.madisonsquarepark.org


Teresita Fernández, Fata Morgana (detail).
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles: Matthew Barney
Through January 18, 2016
Matthew Barney, Boat oƒ Ra Seven years in the making, River of Fundament marks the culmination (thus far) of Barney’s intertwined method of storytelling. A five-hour symphonic film, large-scale sculptures, drawings, photographs, storyboards, and vitrines come together in an intense meditation on death, rebirth, transformation, and transcendence. Inspired by Ancient Evenings, Norman Mailer’s singular vision of ancient Egyptian life and religion, River of Fundament recasts the soul as an automobile (a 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperial from Cremaster 3) and reincarnation as recycling. After its “death” in a live 2008 performance, the car returns to its birthplace in Detroit, where it is reborn as a 1979 Pontiac Firebird; its soul then travels to New York, where myth materializes in sculpture. As Barney explains, each of the sculptures embodies a different relationship to elemental metals or to alloys—all based in the history of ancient Egyptian metal casting and Mailer’s scatological view of life, but translated into a distinctly American epic of the post-industrial era. In addition to Canopic Chest, Rouge Battery, Boat of Ra (an inversion of Mailer’s Brooklyn attic with a bronze cast of his writing desk), and other large sculptures from the Haus der Kunst and MONA showings, this installation features a series of new “Water Castings,” randomized forms created by pouring molten bronze into an open pit filled with water and clay silt.  

Web site www.moca.org


Matthew Barney, Boat oƒ Ra.
Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, Monaco: Fausto Melotti
Through January 17, 2016
View of Fausto Melotti studio, published in damus, March 1963. A sculptor of lightness and poetry, Melotti is best known for his teatrini—small stage sets housing evocative tableaux of figures and objects that he made from the late 1950s to 1984. With their architectonic emphasis, the teatrini bridge Melotti’s evolution from a Constructivist mode in the 1920s, though figuration, to an idiosyncratic abstrac­tion inspired by the physical, intel­­lectual, and harmonic laws imposed by spatial composition and musical tempo. This show explores yet another aspect of the enigmatic artist—his work as a decorator and the cross-fertilization between his artistic goals and those of Giò Ponti, founder and two-time editor of Domus. Between 1948 and 1968, the arbiter of Modernism in all things (architectural and otherwise) published dozens of images of Melotti’s work and studio in conjunction with articles covering his collaborations with architects, the teatrini and other ceramic works, and the evolution of his metal sculptures; the magazine also featured Melotti’s poetic and programmatic essays, including the 1963 manifesto “L’Incertezza.” More than 70 ceramic works and 20 metal sculptures appear in the flesh and in reproduction—on the pages of Domus and in original photographs taken by Ugo Mulas, whose sensitive images later prompted the rediscovery of a great sculptor.

Web site www.nmnm.mc

View of Fausto Melotti studio, published in damus, March 1963.
Power Station of Art, Shanghai: Ilya and Emilia Kabakov
Through December 6, 2015
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, 20 Ways to Get an Apple Listening to the Music oƒ Mozart. Following its ambitious predecessor—The Strange City, installed last year at the Grand Palais—The Dream City emphasizes experience rather than form, asking visitors to “slow down in your real life, to call on your emotions, on your senses, and on your memories.” Drawing on references as diverse as Renaissance art and architecture, Romanticism, and modern science, six distinct zones—each a world unto itself—lead visitors through an epic tale of human aspirations both earthly and metaphysical. Like all of the Kabakovs’ projects, this fantastic imaginary city functions as both a manifestation of social institutions (and other botched or useless human projects) and a utopian container in which creativity can take flight. Though the artists don’t believe that art can influence politics, they firmly maintain that it can change the “way we think, we dream, and we act.”

Web site www.powerstationofart.com

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, 20 Ways to Get an Apple Listening to the Music oƒ Mozart.
Storm King, Mountainville, New York: Luke Stettner
Through November 29, 2015
Luke Stettner, a,b,moon,d (detail). Stettner’s new indoor and outdoor works establish a dialogue between the present and the past, between two and three dimensions. Inside, a group of manipulated photographs of photographs and a sculpture built from concrete and discarded mobile phones explore the irretrievability of even the recent past, while outdoors, a,b,moon,d transforms an 80-square-foot expanse of the South Fields into a geoglyphic puzzle on the order of the Nazca Lines. Geometrically configured, biochar-filled trenches, punctuated by carefully positioned columns, exude an aura of lost cryptographic ritual. Requiring an aerial view to coalesce, these forms re-enact the layout of ancient religious complexes and pictographic signs while probing the origins of the human need to communicate through language and pictures.

Web site www.stormkingartcenter.org

Luke Stettner, a,b,moon,d (detail).

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