A history of rich, scholarly and history-making exhibitions at Cheim and Read with Director Maria Bueno

by leslierankowfinearts

Al Held
Black & White Paintings
Cheim & Read

CURATING AN EXHIBITION IS AN ART FORM IN AND OF ITSELF. THE CONCERNS ARE BOTH AESTHETIC AND PRACTICAL. A CURATOR HAS AN IDEA FOR AN EXHIBITION AND THEN STARTS TO EXPLORE THE ARTWORKS THAT WOULD BE THE FIRST CHOICES TO BEST ILLUSTRATE THE THEME. FROM A PRACTICAL POINT OF VIEW, IT IS LABOR-INTENSIVE IN TERMS OF CONVINCING THE LENDERS, BORROWING THE WORKS, EXECUTING THE LOAN AGREEMENTS, CHECKING THE CONDITION OF THE WORKS, TRANSPORTING THEM, THE INSURANCE, AND SO ON. FROM AN AESTHETIC PERSPECTIVE, THERE ARE WORKS THAT ARE ESSENTIAL CENTERPIECES OF THE EXHIBITION AND CURATORS MUST PLAN, A LONG TIME IN ADVANCE, TO ACQUIRE THEM FOR EXHIBITION.

Serpentine Pavilion

ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT MUSEUM CURATORS IS SUPERSTAR HANS ULRICH OBRIST, CURATOR OF THE UNIQUE SERPENTINE GALLERY IN LONDON,  WHO CONTRIBUTED THIS ARTICLE ON THE ART OF CURATION TO THE GUARDIAN IN MARCH 2014.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/23/hans-ulrich-obrist-art-curator

IT’S WORTH THINKING ABOUT THE ETYMOLOGY OF CURATING. IT COMES FROM THE LATIN WORD CURARE, MEANING TO TAKE CARE. IN ROMAN TIMES, IT MEANT TO TAKE CARE OF THE BATH HOUSES. IN MEDIEVAL TIMES, IT DESIGNATED THE PRIEST WHO CARED FOR SOULS. LATER, IN THE 18TH CENTURY, IT MEANT LOOKING AFTER COLLECTIONS OF ART AND ARTIFACTS.

THERE’S A HANGOVER OF ALL THOSE THINGS IN MODERN CURATING. WHEN I CURATED MY FIRST EXHIBITION – WHICH FOLLOWED DISCUSSIONS WITH THE ARTISTS PETER FISCHLI AND DAVID WEISS,  RICHARD WENTWORTH, CHRISTIAN BOLTANSKI AND HANS PETER FELDMANN,  IN THE KITCHEN OF MY APARTMENT IN ST. GALLEN, SWITZERLAND – I HAD A PRODUCTIVE MISUNDERSTANDING WITH MY PARENTS. THEY THOUGHT I WAS GOING INTO MEDICINE BECAUSE CURATING MEANS CARING. I DON’T THINK THEY THOUGHT IT WAS TO DO WITH ART.

TODAY, CURATING AS A PROFESSION MEANS AT LEAST FOUR THINGS. IT MEANS TO PRESERVE, IN THE SENSE OF SAFEGUARDING THE HERITAGE OF ART. IT MEANS TO BE THE SELECTOR OF NEW WORK. IT MEANS TO CONNECT TO ART HISTORY. AND IT MEANS DISPLAYING OR ARRANGING THE WORK. BUT IT’S MORE THAN THAT. BEFORE 1800, FEW PEOPLE WENT TO EXHIBITIONS. NOW HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE VISIT THEM EVERY YEAR. IT’S A MASS MEDIUM AND A RITUAL. 

IN THE GALLERY WORLD, CHEIM & READ IS KNOWN FOR ITS EXCEPTIONAL GALLERY EXHIBITIONS.

https://www.cheimread.com/

IN TODAY’S LRFA BLOG, GALLERY DIRECTOR MARIA BUENO, WILL SHARE A VERY SMALL SLICE OF THE GALLERY’S VERY RICH AND EXTENSIVE EXHIBITION HISTORY.

MARIA, WELCOME BACK!

Jack Pierson
Installation View
Cheim & Read

 

MANY OF THE ARTISTS THE GALLERY REPRESENTS HAVE BEEN WITH THE GALLERY SINCE ITS INAUGURATION IN 1997.  WHO ARE SOME OF THE ARTISTS THAT FALL IN THAT CATEGORY?

Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Adam Fuss, Bill Jensen, Jonathan Lasker, Jack Pierson, and Juan Usle.

Lynda Benglis
Installation View
Cheim & Read

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CRITERIA FOR CONSIDERING AN ARTIST’S REPRESENTATION? ARE THEIR SPECIFIC STEPS, AS IN TESTING THE WATERS WITH GROUP EXPOSURE, OR DOES IT DIFFER IN EACH INSTANCE?

It differs in each instance, but the most important component of considering representing an artist is that the artist’s work fits within John Cheim’s curatorial vision and also complements the artists whom we already work with – context is extremely important to us and it is important all of our artists’ work can have a meaningful dialogue when shown together. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat In Word Only Cheim & Read

WITH A TWENTY YEAR HISTORY, THIS BECOMES AN IMPOSSIBLE QUESTION BUT WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER SOME OF THE MOST OUTSTANDING SOLO EXHIBITIONS?

Impossible question, indeed! Some that come to mind are IN WORD ONLY by Jean Michel Basquiat, Joan Mitchell FRÉMICOURT PAINTINGS, Louise Bourgeois SUSPENSION, and Al Held’s BLACK AND WHITE PAINTINGS.

N.B. To coincide with two major retrospective exhibitions of Basquiat’s work at the Brooklyn Museum, New York and the Museo d’Arte Moderna, in Lugano, Switzerland, in 2005, Cheim & Read presented an exceptional exhibit entitled “In Word Only” that focused on the paintings, drawings and notebooks that celebrated the use of the written word and its significance.  This exhibition was the first to exclusively feature Basquiat’s unique and significant use of language.

The Female Gaze: Women Look At Women
Cheim & Read, 2009

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER SOME OF THE MOST OUTSTANDING GROUP EXHIBITIONS?

The Female Gaze: Women Look At Women and its counterpart , The Female Gaze: Women Look at Men, Soutine and Modern Art: The New Landscape, The New Still Life and I Am As You Will Be: The Skeleton In Art.

N.B. THESE ARE JUST A VERY FEW EXAMPLES OF THE SCHOLARSHIP AND INTELLECTUAL RIGOR THAT CHEIM & READ HAS INVESTED IN A TWENTY YEAR PERIOD WHEN CURATING WORKS FOR AN EXHIBITION. THE EXHIBITS ARE ACCOMPANIED BY BEAUTIFULLY CONCEIVED CATALOGUES THAT INCLUDE AN ESSAY ON THE EXHIBITION AND IMAGES OF THE WORKS.

The Female Gaze: Women Look At Women
Cheim & Read 2009

THE FEMALE GAZE: WOMEN LOOK AT MEN

A prescient two part exhibition on the female form as seen through the eyes of women artists and men artists took place in September 2009 at Cheim and Read.

With
 this
 premise, 
the 
show  
sought
 to
 present
 a
 collection 
of 
works
 which
 reclaim
ed the
 traditional
 domination
 of
 the
 “male
 gaze”
 and
 reorient
ed the
 significance 
of
 the 
female
 figure 
to
 allow 
for
 more
 varied
 interpretations. A variety of mediums was included- sculpture, photography, video, painting and installation- and a rich and diverse group of women artists represented including Vanessa Beecroft, Lynda Benglis, Ellen Gallagher, Nan Golden, Roni Horn, and Joan Mitchell, to name a few. 

Wendy
Steiner, 
in 
her
 essay
 “Venus 
in 
Exile:
The
Rejection 
of
 Beauty in
Twentieth-Century
 Art”
 elaborates 
further:

The 
‘self’
 judging
 the 
beauty
 of 
art,
 for 
example,
 is 
a
 perceiver
 and
 hence 
a 
conscious
 subject,
 whereas 
the
‘ Other’ 
is
 merely
 the 
object
 of 
this 
perception. 
If
 the 
Other 
is 
an
artwork, 
it
 is 
inanimate
 by 
definition;
 many 
people 
would
 argue 
that 
the
 perception
 of
 a
 woman 
(or 
man 
or
 child)
 as
 beautiful
 reduces
 her 
to 
the 
status 
of 
a
 thing 
as
 well.
Indeed,
 in 
the
 perennial
 symbolism
 surrounding
 beauty,
 the 
perceiver 
(the
 self)
 is
 active 
and
 ‘hence’
 male,
 and 
the 
artwork
 or
 woman 
(the
Other)
 is
 passive
 ( to-be-seen )
 and 
‘therefore’ 
female.

This
 exhibition 
attempts 
to 
debunk
 the
 notion
 of 
the
 male 
gaze 
by
 providing 
a
 group
 of
 works 
in 
which 
the
 artist 
and
 subject
 do
 not
 relate
  as
“voyeur”
and
“object,”
 but
 as
woman
 and 
woman.
 It
 would 
be 
interesting 
to
 ask 
the 
question
 how
 we
 would 
feel
 about
  the 
works 
in
 the
 exhibition 
if
 we
 were
 told
  they 
were
 made
 by 
a
 man.

Soutine and Modern Art: The New Landscape, The New Still Life
Cheim & Read

DO YOU INVITE GUEST CURATORS OR DOES THE THEMATIC IDEA FOR AN EXHIBIT REST WITH HOWARD AND/OR JOHN OR WITH THE GALLERY STAFF AS A GROUP?

The majority of our exhibitions are conceived and curated by John Cheim but on occasion we do invite artists like Jack Pierson to curate exhibitions. We have also had independent curators like Raphael Rubinstein curate exhibitions such REINVENTING ABSTRACTION which focused on New York abstraction in the 1980s as practiced by a generation of painters born between 1939 and 1949.

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST, MARIA GIVES HER ASTUTE PERSPECTIVE ON THE PLACE OF ART FAIRS IN THE CURRENT MARKET.

UNTIL THEN!