Andrea Rosen Gallery: WILLEM DE KOONING, LUCIO FONTANA, EVA HESSE
BASE: OBJECT - 25 Oct 2008 to 6 Dec 2008
Willem de Kooning, Untitled, c. 1975. Charcoal and oil on paper, 21 3/4 x 18 in
Private Collection Courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG
© 2008 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society, New York
WILLEM DE KOONING
In cooperation with
The Willem de Kooning Foundation and
The Estate of Eva Hesse
October 25 - December 6, 2008
October 25 - December 6, 2008
This exhibition is accompanied by three commissioned texts:
Suzanne Hudson: "Style is a fraud": de Kooning after de Kooning
Raffaele Bedarida: "Bourgeois? Never!" Fontana Contended in the Late 1930s
Helen Molesworth: Don't Look Back: Eva Hesse's Early Work
Andrea Rosen Gallery is delighted to present an exhibition of oil on paper works by Willem de Kooning, "baroque" ceramic sculpture by Lucio Fontana, and Eva Hesse paintings from the 1960s. These are works absorbed in their media and the intrinsic risk in the physical engagement of making. In selecting these specific pieces from these particular bodies of work within each of the artists' oeuvres and in placing them in dialogue with each other, we hope to create an opportunity to expand our understanding not only of each artist but also of how these artists relate to one another. It is compelling to recognize that we as viewers are more able to expand our perception, with broader leaps, when we have pre-validated the artists at whose work we are looking; affording us to think more about nuance. Presenting perhaps lesser known works by such influential artists upends our usual assumptions and base of knowledge, allowing us to reevaluate our own ideas about this work and affords the challenge and the pleasure of grappling with ideas and the ever-changing web of art history.
While each of the artists in this exhibition retains his or her own territory and may not naturally be seen as of the same school, there are also so many extraordinary similarities that are made manifest in their juxtaposition. All of the works in this exhibition display a sense of violence, uncertainty and aggression, and yet, are bound together by their abundantly joyful palette. Evoking a tension between abstraction and figuration, the figure in all of these works is present as much as it is not. While technically, every Fontana ceramic is a literal depiction of a battle scene, crucifixion, flowers, animals . . . these particular ceramic sculptures, in their dynamic immediacy, raw visceral quality, and hand-hewed gestures, generate a form that is as much an image as it is an abstract trace of the artist's process. Hesse's work in this exhibition were made following a much more figurative body of paintings and just precede her transition to a sculptural practice and like so much painting being made in the early 1960s, have an indebtedness to de Kooning and his ethereal line between abstraction and figuration. As Helen Molesworth astutely notes, Hesse's early production is marked by "jumbles of energetic abstraction held in a kind of violent contrapusto with figuration." While Hesse is known for her sculpture, her facility as a painter is astonishing and certainly equal to if not surpassing other artists working contemporaneously. It is remarkable then that Hesse choose to make "a radical aesthetic break with painting" and yet, as Molesworth argues, "her concerns remained constant." The sense that all of the works in this exhibition represent significant, transitional moments within each artists' entire practice is intentional. It is in times of transition and exploration that artists often reveal their own radical penchant for risk and allow a more open gesture that is at once arresting and fascinating to witness.
One could have easily organized a rote exhibition of the same title with completely different works by these artists examining an affinity of form or subject matter. Our intention was for these subjects to reveal themselves and to allow unspoken relationships to emerge. Fontana's "Crocifisso", 1948 modeled in clay and painted in a lush polychrome glaze could have been paired with de Kooning's crucifixion drawings or his strikingly similar bronze works to which Suzanne Hudson refers in her text, however, we selected a body of painting on paper which, Hudson notes with interest, immediately follows de Kooning's brief five-year encounter with sculpture and "preserve the sensation and bodily impressions of pliant clay." Likewise, Fontana's well-known works like his Cuts or Holes could have been shown with Hesse's sculptures as they were in the seminal 2005 exhibition "Part Object Part Sculpture" at the Wexner Center for the Arts, exploring the idea that the body is connected to objects, and that objects hold a sensory trace of the hand. This exhibition is not only about the pleasure of seeing these correlations in the gallery, but also about providing an opportunity to resource a base of knowledge and allow each viewer to expand his or her experience.
Images (left to right): Willem de Kooning , c. 1970-1979, Oil and charcoal on paper. Private Collection, courtesy Gagosian Gallery and Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG. ©2008 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society, New York. Lucio Fontana, Battaglia, 1947, polychrome ceramic. Collection of Thomas H. Lee and Ann Tenenbaum. Fondazione Lucio Fontana, Milano. Eva Hesse, No title, c. 1962, oil on canvas. © The Estate of Eva Hesse. Hauser & Wirth Zürich London
In collaboration with The Willem de Kooning Foundation and The Estate of Eva Hesse, Hauser & Wirth Zürich London
For more information and images please contact Jeremy Lawson at email@example.com or 212 627-6000
William J. O'Brien
Curated by Cory Nomura
October 25 - December 6, 2008
Base:Object brings together five new sculptures which explore the status of the pedestal in contemporary art. Strictly as a tool to present a sculpture, to clarify what is and what is not an art object, and to signify the importance of what is being displayed, the pedestal has been undermined in modern art history since Constantin Brancusi's sculptures in the earliest decades of the 20th century. All of the works in the exhibition subversively complicate the duality of the pedestal/art object relationship and unlike Minimalist sculpture from the 1960s, choose to work with and through the form of the pedestal without completely obliterating it. The pedestal can act as a kind of barrier between art and non-art, simultaneously anointing the displayed and effacing itself. When the pedestal becomes the art object, these hierarchies are crushed into a shimmering sea of infinite difference.
Do you know how diamonds get to us? Three hundred miles underground are heats and pressures that crush carbon into sparkling shapes, driven for months or days or hours along hotel corridors called diamond pipes until they erupt in a pile of taffeta and chocolate some moonlit afternoon, an event no human has ever witnessed.
The sculptures in Base:Object figure fragility and precariousness, constriction, binding, and fracturing. Surfaces are rough and raw and scarred. These works are experiments to set meaning in motion. These sculptures deny the autonomy of the art object and yet celebrate the motivations and compulsions to make art. The works in this exhibition and by this generation of artists short circuit the embedded ideologies of presentation and recast traditional signs of importance and value. This subversion is made manifest by working a kind of alchemy on the detritus and cheap materials overlooked in a society of consumption.
All of the works in Base:Object display a marked interest in materiality and the painstaking effort of creating an object both seemingly casual and formally rigorous. Eschewing bronze, porcelain, and carved wood, the works in Base:Object are constructed from the everyday materials of the urban world: concrete, Formica, urethane, nylon yarn, canvas, carpet, sheets of glass, bits of wood, foam, drywall. They are the children of Minimalist boxes, no longer simply reflecting the viewers gaze back into the world at large, but displaying their origins in that world. It's the Minimalist cube or the Rauschenberg combine infected by the desires and conditions of the society that bore them. Barker, Hill, Monahan, O'Brien, and Ruby are all working contemporaneously in a time of uncertainty, war, gross economic inequity, financial collapse, and unprecedented environmental destruction. Heats and pressures erupting form-possibilities of renewal built from the ruins of the present.
For press information please contact Jeremy Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALSO ON VIEW
Josiah McElheny, Sean Landers, Matthew Ritchie, Elliott Hundley, Tetsumi Kudo, Lynda Benglis