The art of Installation Art at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
INSTALLATION ART IS SITE-SPECIFIC, A THREE-DIMENSIONAL WORK SIGNIFICANT IN SCALE THAT TRANSFORMS OUR PERCEPTION OF A SPACE. THE TERM GAINED CURRENCY IN THE 1960s TO DESCRIBE AN ARTIST’S METAMORPHOSIS OF AN INTERIOR, OFTEN FOR A TEMPORARY PERIOD OF TIME, CHARACTERIZED BY THE ARTWORK’S PHYSICAL DOMINATION OF THE ENTIRE SPACE. INSTALLATION ART INVITES THE SPECTATOR TO LITERALLY ENTER INTO THE WORK OF ART, OFTEN ENGAGING NOT ONLY THE VIEWER’S SENSE OF SIGHT BUT OFTEN HEARING AND SMELL.
ONE OF THE EARLIEST INSTALLATIONS WAS YVES KLEIN’S THE VOID IN PARIS AT GALERIE IRIS CLERT, A 1958 PRESENTATION, RADICAL FOR ITS TIME, OF AN EMPTY WHITE INTERIOR IN A COMMERCIAL GALLERY. ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CONCEPTUAL SPECTRUM, A YEAR LATER THE SAME GALLERY WAS TRANSFORMED BY ARMAN’S FULLNESS, WHEN THE ARTIST CRAMMED THE SPACE WITH RUBBISH SO THAT THE WORK COULD ONLY BE VIEWED THROUGH THE STOREFRONT WINDOW.
IN NEW YORK, EARLY INSTALLATIONS INCLUDE JIM DINE’S THE HOUSE AND OLDENBURG’S THE STREET. IN APRIL, 1966, AT LEO CASTELLI GALLERY, ANDY WARHOL CREATED TWO SEPARATE INSTALLATIONS: A ROOM FILLED WITH SILVER HELIUM PILLOWS, SILVER CLOUDS, ANOTHER COVERED WITH HIS COW WALLPAPER, BOTH CHALLENGING OUR PRECONCEPTIONS OF THE NATURE OF ART AND APPROPRIATE MATERIALS.
SINCE ITS INCEPTION, TANYA BONAKDAR GALLERY HAS DEMONSTRATED AN IMPRESSIVE COMMITMENT TO THE CHALLENGES OF CONTEMPORARY ART AND THE GALLERY ARTISTS IT REPRESENTS WITH ITS DEDICATION TO EXHIBITING AND PLACING SITE-SPECIFIC INSTALLATION WORKS IN PRIVATE COLLECTIONS AND MUSEUMS. THE GALLERY, LOCATED IN THE HEART OF CHELSEA AT 521 WEST 21st STREET, PROVIDES ARTISTS WITH THE TRUE MEANING OF ARTISTIC LICENSE BY SUPPORTING THEIR NON-COMMERCIAL PROJECTS THAT EXPAND THE POSSIBILITIES OF SCALE AND SCOPE. http://www.tanyabonakdargallery.com/
IN TODAY’S LRFA BLOG, RENEE COPPOLA, GALLERY DIRECTOR, WILL DOCUMENT SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS IN THE TWENTY YEAR HISTORY OF THE GALLERY EXHIBITIONS.
TANYA BONAKDAR OPENED THE GALLERY IN 1994 ON PRINCE STREET IN SOHO. WHO WERE THE ARTISTS THAT MADE UP THE OPENING ROSTER OF THE GALLERY? HOW DID TANYA BECOME INTERESTED AND INVOLVED IN THEIR WORK AND WHAT PROMPTED HER TO OPEN A GALLERY?
Many of the artists who were showing at the gallery in the early years have enjoyed a long, productive relationship with Tanya and the gallery. Uta Barth, Charles Long, Olafur Eliasson, Mat Collishaw, and Ernesto Neto are just some of the artists who were shown in Soho during the 1990s and still exhibit with us today. Tanya is very interested in showing international artists, as they provide a great range of perspectives and different ways of seeing the world. She has been consistent in this respect, and the gallery’s roster of artists represents a very diverse group.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF PAST EXHIBITIONS THAT HAVE DRAWN THE GREATEST CRITICAL, MUSEUM AND COLLECTOR RECOGNITION?
So many exhibitions have been well-received by the public and press. Sarah Sze’s first show at the gallery in 2010 was incredibly popular and led directly to her Venice Bienniale nomination and ultimate commission. Olafur Eliasson’s show at the gallery in 2000 won the Art Critics of America Award for Best Gallery Show of the Year. More recently, Ernesto Neto’s exhibition of interactive, crocheted sculptures in 2012 generated great interest from curators, and from there Neto was invited to present a major solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Bilbao. So it is true that the gallery shows have historically been a catalyst for many major exhibitions.
THE GALLERY ROSTER IS EXTREMELY DIVERSE REPRESENTING MORE THAN THIRTY ARTISTS AND COMMITTED TO SHOWING WORK IN A LARGE DIVERSITY OF MEDIA. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN IMPRESSED BY THE SUPPORT THE GALLERY SHOWS TO ITS ARTISTS IN EXHIBITING WORKS THAT ARE DEMANDING IN TERMS OF INSTALLATION AND PLACEMENT. WHO ARE SOME OF THE ARTISTS THAT FOCUS ON INSTALLATION? WHAT IS THE MARKET FOR THESE WORKS?
Our last exhibition (January 8 – February 14, 2015) is work by Susan Philipsz, an artist best known for often very large-scale indoor and outdoor audio installations. For our show, Susan will present an immersive, 24-channel sound installation, inspired by 1930s émigré artists, Hollywood film scores, and McCarthy-era censorship. (This piece was originally shown in the large Hamburger Bahnhof space in Berlin.) Although on the surface the work seems immense – requiring the space of an entire room and somewhat specialized audio equipment, there is actually great versatility to her pieces that I believe make them quite easy and adaptable and suited for many different types of spaces. However, it is true that there are many works of art that are large-scale and require much more space than your average painting or domestically-scaled sculpture. These installations are certainly well-suited for museums and institutions, yet there are also some very passionate and committed collectors who don’t mind devoting a room in their home or office to a major work!
THE GALLERY MOVED TO ITS CURRENT LOCATION AT 521 WEST 21ST IN 1998. IT WAS AMONG THE FIRST TO EXODUS SOHO AND DEFINE CHELSEA AS THE DOMINANT GALLERY AREA IN NEW YORK. WHAT DID THE NEW SPACE ALLOW THAT THE ORIGINAL SOHO SPACE COULD NOT?
Our move coincided with a period of tremendous growth for the gallery, and Chelsea offered the gallery a possibility to continue with this trajectory of expansion.
IN 2006, THE GALLERY EXPANDED EVEN FURTHER, ACQUIRING 5000 SQUARE FEET OF STREET LEVEL SPACE. THIS DOUBLED THE SIZE AND CERTAINLY ENHANCED THE GALLERY EXHIBITION CAPABILITIES AND ITS PROGRAMMING. SPECIFICALLY, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EXHIBITIONS THAT THIS NEW EXPANDED SPACE MADE POSSIBLE?
The first exhibition in the new downstairs space was Olafur Eliasson’s Your Engagement Sequence and really represented how the renovation allowed for new opportunities in regard to the program. For example, that artwork used light within a totally darkened room, which the artist viewed as an opportunity to explore what he calls the “fifth dimension” of an individualized perspective of the dimensions in space. The enhanced size of the gallery helped make the work even more successful.
IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, RENEE WILL DISCUSS FUTURE EXHIBITIONS WE CAN ANTICIPATE AS WELL AS A RECENT ADDITION TO THE GALLERY PROGRAMMING -E/I DISCUSSIONS- AN EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIVE YEAR LONG SERIES OF SATURDAY TALKS.
I APPRECIATE YOUR COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS AND, MOST OF ALL, YOUR READERSHIP!