International Sculpture Center
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Sculpture cover


Dec 2011
Vol.30 No 10

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.

Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum - Ridgefield, Connecticut: Jessica Stockholder
Through December 31, 2011
Stockholder usually constructs her sculptural worlds from the flimsiest of building blocks—plastic bags and containers, extension cords, lumber, plywood, carpets, and furniture. Her new installation at the Aldrich, however, takes a different direction, replacing the manmade with the natural, the disposable with the enduring. Hollow Places Court in Ash-Tree Wood repurposes a much-loved, but ailing tree removed from the museum’s grounds in 2009. A desire to “remember it properly” led to Stockholder’s commission. Working with cabinetmaker Clifford Moran and screenprinter Gary Lichtenstein, Stockholder gives form to childhood memories of forests in British Columbia while re-invigorating her ephemeral abstraction with the solidity, continuity of place, and sense of time embodied by trees.
Tel: 203.438.4519
Web site

Jessica Stockholder, Hollow Places Court in Ash-Tree Wood (detail).
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art - Gateshead, U.K.: Turner Prize 2011
Through January 8, 2012
For the first time in its 27-year history, the Turner Prize shortlist exhibition has severed its ties to the Tate. A selection of artists that breaks the London barrier, together with the move to Gateshead, has been hailed as proof of a more mature British art scene (though astute observers credit the boundary-broadening to the excellence of the Glasgow School of Art). This year, the habitual call for more painters has produced results (of a sort)—if you consider Karla Black a painter. Her work may be “almost painting, performance, or installation,” but she emphasizes, “it is important that what [it] becomes in the end is sculpture.” Whether bemused critics classify her as a “painter” or a “dirt artist,” her ephemeral, impossibly fragile, and ethereally beautiful “almost objects”—made of everything from bath salts and face powder to polyethylene sheets and, yes, soil—have made her the front-runner. The only true painter in the group, George Shaw, poses a serious challenge with his superficially traditional, highly personal renderings of “forsaken” suburbia, precision-rendered in enamel model paints. Video artist Hilary Lloyd, who captures building sites, highway bridges, and other eerie urban scenes, and sculptor Martin Boyce, who uses fences, chairs, garbage bins, and neon lights to evoke the atmosphere and ideals of Modernist design, round out the list.
Tel: + 44 (0) 191 478 1810
Web site

Martin Boyce, night terrace-lantern chains-forgotten seas-sky, from Turner Prize 2011.
Brooklyn Museum - Brooklyn: Sanford Biggers
Through January 8, 2012
Working across disciplines and cultures, Biggers refuses to impose hierarchical order “on chronology, references, or media.” His sculptures, videos, music, and photography, which fuse meditation and improvisation to “broaden and complicate our read on American history,” incorporate icons and rites ranging from Buddhist mandalas and slave quilts to hip hop and Americana, from African spirituality and Indo-European Vodun to Afrofuturism. A savvy syncretism allows him to make seamless, poetically resonant sense of antithetical symbols and legacies. Lynchings, Buddhist enlightenment, and the tradition of American landscape painting come together in Blossom, while Cheshire fuses the grin of the disembodied cat and the caricatured makeup of the blackface minstrel. This selection of 13 works also emphasizes the active, musical element in his sculptures, which often turn into performances: visitors will have the chance to dialogue and duet across keyboards.
Tel: 718.638.5000
Web site

Sanford Biggers, Blossom
Brooklyn Museum - Brooklyn: Lee Mingwei
Through January 22, 2012
Lee’s The Moving Garden consists of a 45-foot-long granite table “planted” with 100 freshly cut flowers that appear to grow out of a central channel. Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, this interactive installation invites participation in a cycle of giving and receiving. Visitors may take a flower away when they leave the museum, on the condition that they make a detour on the way to their next destination and pass their gift along to a stranger. As the day progresses, the flowers on the table disappear. The next day, they are replaced, and the cycle begins again.
Tel: 718.638.5000
Web site

Lee Mingwei, The Moving Garden
DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum - Lincoln, Massachusetts: Temporary Structures
Through December 31, 2011
There is no such thing as a neutral environment. From pristine white-cube galleries to time-scarred historic sites, from simple shelters to the loaded glass and concrete behemoths of Modernism—every space speaks. The works featured in “Temporary Structures” underscore the malleable and active nature of the built environment by merging performative strategies with architectural subject matter. Time-based, temporary interventions give the lie to myths of fixity and permanence. Featured artists—from Gordon Matta-Clark, Ant Farm, and Vito Acconci to Alex Schweder and Mika Tajima—open our eyes to the changing, almost living, nature of architecture. It takes artists to show us how buildings become active agents in our lives, informing and shaping our behavior, changing states, and telling history.
Tel: 781.259.8355
Web site

Installation view of “Temporary Structures.”
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art - Kansas City, Missouri: Jeanne Quinn
Through January 7, 2012
Quinn’s hybrid installations combine porcelain with unexpected materials such as paint, electricity, and balloons to create inventive juxtapositions of the elegant and the awkward, the sublime and the prosaic. In these works, clay becomes a tool to explore perception, time, and change. Form alternates with pattern in the visual mind games of Rorschach Curtain and Everything is Not As It Seems, while A Thousand Tiny Deaths reduces beauty to rubble. Delicate, classically inspired vases and urns hang in the air, suspended by inflated interior balloons; as the balloons deflate, the vessels crash to the floor, where the shards remain as reminders of little disappointments and everyday tragedies.
Tel: 816.753.5784
Web site

Jeanne Quinn, Rorschach Curtain.
Kunsthalle Fridericianum - Kassel, Germany: Danh Vo
Through December 31, 2011
For Vo, history—with its complex political, religious, and cultural dynamics—is reflected in individual life stories, including his own. (His family fled Vietnam’s postwar chaos in 1979.) With “JULY, IV, MDCCLXXVI,” he explores freedom and independence—as myth and reality. The title designates the date on which America’s founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence; the Roman numerals come from the tablet held by the Statue of Liberty, the symbol of hope for generations of refugees and immigrants arriving in New York. Vo’s gigantic replica of Lady Liberty, WE THE PEOPLE, undercuts monumentality and security with fragility and precariousness, dissecting the statue into individual segments of thin copper skin. This broken icon finds its distorted reflection in an ambivalent found-object assemblage starring the typewriter responsible for another (in)famous call to liberation—the Unabomber’s Manifesto.
Tel: + 49 561 707 27 20
Web site

Danh Vo, WE THE PEOPLE (detail).
Madison Square Park - New York: Mad. Sq. Art: Alison Saar
Through December 31, 2011
Sophisticated commentaries on family, spirituality, and race, Saar’s powerful found-object-encrusted figures allude to a rich variety of references and traditions, infusing historical and stereotypical representations of African Americans with contemporary meanings. Her six-piece installation at Madison Square Park expands its scope to touch on universal principles, with two Treesouls and four new works inspired by the cyclical qualities of life and nature. Feallen and Fallow takes the ancient myth of Persephone as its starting point, weaving a tale of birth, maturation, decline, and rebirth through four larger-than-life female forms. For Saar, who used to live near the park and was “always amazed by [its seasonal] transformations,” this endless loop of fertility and barrenness doubles as a metaphor for the “ebb and flow of creativity.”
Tel: 212.538.6667
Web site

Alison Saar, Spring.
MIT List Visual Arts Center - Cambridge, Massachusetts: Hans Haacke, Otto Piene
Through December 31, 2011
Following a Heinz Mack survey in Bonn over the summer, these two shows continue to chart the history and legacy of the influential, Düssel?dorf-based Zero group. In 1957, Piene, Mack, and Günther Uecker formally launched a new endeavor devoted to re-harmonizing man and nature and restoring a metaphysical dimension to art. Their “Zero Hour” experiments with kinetics and light soon formalized into a movement that attracted Hans Haacke, Jean Tinguely, Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana, and Piero Manzoni. Piene’s particular interests took the form of kinetic light environments and multimedia “sky art.” This exhibition features a selection of his ongoing Lichtballett works. First produced with hand-operated lamps directed through perforated stencils, the light ballets became mechanized in the 1960s. Revolving lamps, grids, globes, and disks operated by electric switchboards create a “steady flow of unfurling and dimming, reappearing, and vanishing light,” capturing the magic and science of optical phenomena. When MIT invited Haacke to do a solo show in 1967 (a year after he left Zero), he was known as a “kinetic” artist; when he arrived in Cambridge, he insisted that his works were now “systems,” produced with the “explicit intention of having their components physically communicate with each other, and the whole communicate physically with the environment.” These ephemeral works are all restaged here, including Grass, in which a seeded mound of dirt sprouts and turns green, and Weather Cube, in which water droplets condense in response to gallery conditions. Though Haacke later gained notoriety for his politically charged investigations of social systems, these early environments, with their emphasis on the feedback cycles of organic life, have a particular resonance today, as we rediscover and reinvent the insights of 1960s environmental consciousness.
Tel: 617.253.4680
Web site

Otto Piene, Electric Rose.
Museum of Contemporary Art - Detroit: Stéphanie Nava
Through December 30, 2011
Nava’s ongoing Considering a Plot (Dig for Victory) unearths some unappetizing pests in the Edenic view of government-supported, grow-your-own-food movements—specifically English allotments, or subsistence gardens, and U.S. Victory Gardens. Incorporating drawings, objects, and spatial design, this evolving installation considers the garden as more than a positive activist force for grassroots urban greening, community development, and sustainable agriculture. Visitors are invited to stroll through a three-dimensional narrative that re-casts a seemingly innocent, and independent, activity as a pawn in larger convergences. For Nava, the garden is a site of political, economic, and military strategy, “a designed space [that] has throughout history been used as a tool for propaganda and control,” though she may have to rethink that position after her experience in Detroit, where guerilla-style farming has become a driving force of bottom-up renewal in an ailing city.
Tel: 313.832.6622
Web site

Stéphanie Nava, Considering a Plot (Dig for Victory).
Nasher Sculpture Center - Dallas: Diana Al-Hadid
Through January 15, 2012
Baroque and darkly evocative, Al-Hadid’s fragmented architectural forms conjure forgotten civilizations and allude to cataclysmic acts of destruction. Constructed of materials as prosaic as cardboard, plywood, plaster, and resin, her towers, labyrinths, and pipe organs reveal an array of influences, both Eastern and Western—biblical and mythological narratives, Arabic oral traditions, Gothic architecture, and Islamic ornament. Metaphors of cross-cultural identity, these contemporary relics offer a vision of lost civility across divides. Advances in physics and astronomy also fuel her imagination. Her new work for the Nasher responds to Renzo Piano’s elegant, modernized rendering of an archaeological site—the ideal foil for sculptural musings on ruin and the human condition.
Tel: 214.242.5100
Web site

Diana Al-Hadid, Trace of a Fictional Third.
Nasher Sculpture Center - Dallas: Tony Cragg
Through January 8, 2012
The individual elements that make up Cragg’s compositions are important, but his process depends on whether and how those elements can be developed and transformed. A scientific, almost “manic,” interest in the potential movement of bodies drives him to search for, study, and reveal all the possible mutations of a primary structure. Executed in a variety of materials, his shape-shifting sculptures reject the idea of closed form in favor of “openings.” This show (his first U.S. museum exhibition in 20 years) features 30 works in glass, bronze, steel, plastic, wood, and stone—from Micro/ Macro structures to Organs and Organisms, Vessels and Cells, Early Forms, and Rational Beings—that reveal a physical approach to spirituality, and as Cragg says, “an alternative to looking at nature and an alternative to looking at a dull-headed industrial, utilitarian reality.”
Tel: 214.242.5100
Web site

Tony Cragg, Congregation.
New Museum - New York: Carsten Höller
Through January 15, 2012
Höller considers his work as a series of experiments and viewers as his subjects, upending assumptions about perception, sensory experience, balance, and time. Ranging from the purely conceptual to the elaborately architectural, his installations challenge human behavior, question logic, and offer altered states of mind and body. Not content to let viewers look on from the sidelines, he invites active physical participation in his constructions, which include slides, spatial inversions, flying machines, and confounding passages. His first New York survey (choreographed with his collaboration) forms an immersive laboratory/funhouse hybrid in itself, with works from the last 20 years plunging visitors into considerations of safety, childhood, love, happiness, and the future.
Tel: 212.219.1222
Web site

Carsten Höller, Zollner Stripes.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum - New York: Maurizio Cattelan
January 7, 2012
Cattelan practices a varied, at times unnerving, but always imaginative and witty kind of art. Meteor-stricken popes, hanging children, suicidal squirrels, tricycle-riding alter-egos, and sneering donkeys are just some of the star players in his theater of the absurd. In this personal eulogy of folly, nothing is sacred, authority exists to be flouted, and insubordination is a god-given right. Clever and mocking, his controversial sculptures explore the space between what he calls softness and perversity, waging a sarcastic assault on every conceivable kind of power structure and institution. Like Dada and Surrealism, Cattelan’s uncanny juxtapositions uproot presumed understandings of the world. For him, even the banal is absurd. For his first retrospective (featuring more than 130 works), he has commandeered Frank Lloyd Wright’s rotunda as the setting for an unorthodox, site-specific hanging that once again proves his maxim, “reality is far more provocative than my art.”
Tel: 212.423.3500
Web site

Maurizio Cattelan, We.
Tate Britain - London: Barry Flanagan
Through January 2, 2012
Flanagan may be best known for his anthropomorphized bronze hares, but he began his career in a very different vein. Even before leaving St Martin’s in 1966, he began to challenge traditional notions of sculpture. Using sand, rope, felt, plaster, and clay, he focused on composition as process—both mental and physical. This exhibition restores originality and invention to an artist whose work has become a sculpture park mainstay, bringing together a wide range of experimental sculptures created between 1965 and 1982 (when Large Leaping Hare debuted at Documenta). Within this broader picture, Flanagan’s animals become more than popular entertainments; as alter-egos engaged in a range of spirited activities, they convey all the spontaneity, freedom, and speed of his early explorations of material and process while embodying his lifelong interest in the relationship between artist and artisan, tradition and anti-tradition, logic and absurdity.
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7887 8888
Web site

Barry Flanagan, 4 casb 2 ’67.
Wiels - Brussels: Alina Szapocznikow
Through January 8, 2012
Szapocznikow began her career in the postwar period as a traditional figurative sculptor, but she turned to radical experimentation in the 1960s, pursuing a new language to express changed conditions. Her reconception of sculpture has left behind a legacy of provocative objects—at once sexualized, visceral, humorous, and political—that sit uneasily at the intersection of Surrealism, Nouveau Réalisme, and Pop Art. Tinted polyester resin casts of lips and breasts transformed into quotidian objects like lamps and ashtrays, spongy polyurethane forms embedded with casts of bellies or live grass, and resin sculptures that incorporate found photographs remain as remarkably biting, visionary, and original today as when they were made. This exhibition features extensive archival material, as well as more than 100 works, including drawings and photographs, that introduce a unique vision to a wider audience.
Tel: + 32 (0)2 347 30 33
Web site

Alina Szapocznikow, fragments of lip casts.

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