Leslie Rankow Fine Arts

INTERNATIONAL ART ADVISORY SERVICE

Tag: minimalism

Airport, please! heading to London to experience the obsessive vision of infinity with Yayoi Kusama at Tate Modern

Yayoi Kusama
Tate Modern
London, UK

 

The nine decades of Yayoi Kusama’s  life have taken her from rural Japan to the New York art scene to contemporary Tokyo, in a career in which she has continuously innovated and re-invented her style. Well-known for her repeating dot patterns, her art encompasses an astonishing variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance and immersive installation.  It ranges from works on paper featuring intense semi-abstract imagery, to soft sculpture known as ‘Accumulations’, to her ‘Infinity Net’ paintings, made up of carefully repeated arcs of paint built up into large patterns. Since 1977 Kusama has lived voluntarily in a psychiatric institution, and much of her work has been marked with obsessiveness and a desire to escape from psychological trauma. In an attempt to share her experiences, she creates installations that immerse the viewer in her obsessive vision of endless dots and nets or infinitely mirrored space.

Infinity Room
Yayoi Kusama

At the centre of the art world in the 1960s, she came into contact with artists including Donald Judd, Andy Warhol, Joseph Cornell, and Claus Oldenberg influencing many along the way. She has traded on her identity as an ‘outsider’ in many contexts – as a female artist in a male-dominated society, as a Japanese person in the Western art world, and as a victim of her own neurotic and obsessional symptoms. After achieving fame and notoriety with groundbreaking art happenings  and events, she returned to her country of birth and is now Japan’s most prominent contemporary artist.

The post-covid world has opened us up to the fragility of mental well-being, to isolation, and minor insanity and to obsession, worrying about the present and the future, the job market. Kusama has spent her entire life in a post-covid world.

Yayoi Kusama
installation

This is a varied, spectacular exhibition of a truly unique artist. There has never been an exhibition of this size of her work in the UK and this is an unmissable opportunity for both Kusama fans and those new to her work. This is a time of intense confinement and self-absorption. The opportunity to wrap oneself up in Kusama’s infinity nets and time travel in her infinity rooms is particularly seductive.

YAYØI KUSAMA – THE ARTIST

Yayoi Kusama’s (b. 1929) work has transcended two of the most important art movements of the second half of the twentieth century: Pop art and Minimalism. Her highly influential career spans paintings, performances, room-size presentations, outdoor sculptural installations, literary works, films, fashion, design, and interventions within existing architectural structures, which allude at once to microscopic and macroscopic universes.

Born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Japan, Kusama’s work has been featured widely in both solo and group presentations. She presented her first solo show in her native Japan in 1952. In the mid-1960s, she established herself in New York as an important avant-garde artist by staging groundbreaking and influential happenings, events, and exhibitions. Her work gained renewed widespread recognition in the late 1980s following a number of international solo exhibitions, including shows at the Center for International Contemporary Arts, New York, and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, both of which took place in 1989. She represented Japan in 1993 at the 45th Venice Biennale, to much critical acclaim. In 1998, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, co-organized Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama, 1958–1968, which toured to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1998-1999), and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (1999).

Louis Vuitton Commission Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid, Spain

More recently, in 2011 to 2012, her work was the subject of a large- scale retrospective that traveled to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. From 2012 through 2015, three major museum solo presentations of the artist’s work simultaneously traveled to major museums throughout Japan, Asia, and Central and South America. In 2015, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, organized a comprehensive overview of Kusama’s practice that traveled to Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and Helsinki Art Museum. In 2017-2019, a major survey of the artist’s work, Infinity Mirrors, was presented at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Seattle Art Museum; The Broad, Los Angeles; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia. Yayoi Kusama: Life Is the Heart of the Rainbow, which marked the first large-scale exhibition of Kusama’s work presented in Southeast Asia, opened at the National Gallery of Singapore in 2017 and traveled to the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, Australia and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara, Jakarta.

Kusama
Infinity Room

Kusama has been represented by David Zwirner since 2013. The gallery’s inaugural exhibition in 2013 with the artist, titled I Who Have Arrived in Heaven, spanned all three spaces at West 19th Street in New York. Her second gallery solo show was held at David Zwirner, New York, in 2015. Subsequent solo shows of the artist’s work at David Zwirner, New York, include Give Me Love in 2015; Festival of Life, concurrently presented with Infinity Nets, in 2017; and EVERY DAY I PRAY FOR LOVE in 2019. In 2021, David Zwirner, Victoria Miro, and Ota Fine Arts jointly presented I WANT YOUR TEARS TO FLOW WITH THE WORDS I WROTE in London, Tokyo, and New York.

The first comprehensive retrospective of the artist’s work was on view at Gropius Bau, Berlin in 2021, and is currently on view at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art until April 23, 2022. KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature was on view at The New York Botanical Garden in 2021. Tate Modern, London, is presenting Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms through June 12, 2022.

Yayoi Kusama Museum Japan

Yayoi Kusama Museum, a museum dedicated to the artist’s work, opened October 1, 2017, in Tokyo with the inaugural exhibition Creation is a Solitary Pursuit, Love is What Brings You Closer to Art. In 2021, Midway between Mystery and Symbol: Yayoi Kusama’s Monochrome, the museum’s eighth exhibition devoted to her work, was on view.

Work by the artist is held in museum collections worldwide, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; among numerous others. Kusama lives and works in Tokyo.

Kusama’s pumpkin sculpture

https://www.davidzwirner.com/artists/yayoi-kusama

As we head into a perilous war with Russia, we yearn for a perfect space in which to feel safe. Her exhibits command queues around the block in Chelsea, waiting for the  opportunity to immerse themselves in her latest psychotic world  on exhibit at David Zwirner.

Airport, please! To Marfa: to see the new Agave Garden and Judd’s Chinati Foundation

Marfa, Texas
Chinati Foundation/Donald Judd

Marfa, Texas is an iconic town, a cultural stronghold of vitality and vision. Thanks to the artist, Donald Judd, the small desert city in west Texas is known as an arts hub. The Chinati Foundation, founded by Judd, displays huge indoor and outdoor installations on an old army base. The Ballroom Marfa Arts Center hosts exhibitions, concerts and the Marfa Myths cultural festival. Outside the town, a viewing platform from which the mysterious orbs known as the “Marfa Lights” is a phenomenon worth experiencing.

Unlike other towns that have tried to reinvent themselves as art destinations, Marfa is a town that grew organically. It all started when the acclaimed minimalist artist left New York City in the 1970s for this dusty dot of a town. He wanted to escape an art scene that he claimed to disdain. With the help of the DIA Foundation, Judd acquired an entire Army base, and before he died in 1994, he filled it with art, including light installations by Dan Flavin and Judd’s own signature boxes. Ironically, now this once tiny town perched on the high plains of the Chihuahua desert is nothing less than an art world station of the cross, like Art Basel in Miami, or Documenta in Germany.

Agave Franzosini

The most recent addition is a reflection of the renewed awareness and appreciation, triggered by the pandemic, for the outdoors,  for nature and for the environment. “The Agave Garden is a space for the community of Marfa and a celebration of the biodiversity of our region,” said Rainer Judd, President of Judd Foundation. “Don(ald Judd) wrote, ‘my first and largest interest is my relation to the natural world, all of it, all the way out.’ This thinking is central to the work of the Judd Foundation and supports Judd’s interest in the region and his commitment to the city of Marfa. The garden is open to the public and incorporates  Donald Judd Furniture into the setting.

https://juddfoundation.org/article/judd-foundation-opens-agave-garden-in-marfa/

Rainer Judd

THE AGAVE GARDEN

The garden was designed and planted in partnership with Jim Martinez, principle of a Marfa landscape design company that specializes in native plants of Texas and the Southwest. Martinez selected more than twenty agave species native to the Trans-Pecos region including: Agave ferox (Giant Agave), Agave havardiana (Harvard Agave), Agave lechuguilla (Chihuahua Agave), Agave parryi neomexicana (New Mexico Agave), Agave parryi truncata (Artichoke Agave), Agave ovatifolia (Whale’s Tongue Agave), and Agave victoria reginae (Queen Victoria Agave).

Agave plants

The selection of the agave species was based on those local to the Chihuahuan Desert that have had historical use for food, beverage, fiber, cultural ceremony, and beauty for the indigenous tribes of the surrounding regions. Martinez also considered the evolution of the agave species as well as their use and importance to the insects, birds, and mammals.

 

The garden is situated outside of the Cobb House, Whyte Building, and Gatehouse, three buildings on five and a half lots of property purchased by Donald Judd in 1989. Judd intended that these three buildings and the neighboring structures, which house his Art Studio and Architecture Studio, to be united as a complex enclosed by an adobe wall that was to run the length of Oak Street.  The two benches installed in the garden were originally designed by Judd  for his residence in Marfa. The benches are intended to provide a contemplative place for visitors to spend time in the garden.

http://2021 Judd Foundation press release

Donald Judd Furniture

THE CHINATI FOUNDATION

“Most art is fragile and some should be placed and never moved again.” So wrote American minimalist sculptor Donald Judd, founder of the Chinati Foundation. Located on a 340-acre tract of desert land that includes abandoned US Army buildings, Chinati is a contemporary art museum that embodies Judd’s belief that art and the surrounding landscape are inextricably linked. It opened in 1986 with the specific intention to present permanent large-scale installations by a limited number of artists, including Judd himself. Each artist has work installed in a separate building on the museum’s grounds, while temporary exhibitions showcase modern and contemporary work in diverse media. The collection includes iconic examples of the work of Carl Andre, John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, Roni Horn and Robert Irwin and a limited number of other artists who share Judd’s sensibility.

https://chinati.org/

 

Airport, please! A visit to the impeccable Axel Vervoordt’s Hong Kong gallery

Chung Chang-Sap

For more than half a century, Axel Vervoordt’s relationship to art and antiques has been a way for him to share his flawless perception and aesthetic. He believes the best way to fully inhabit a space is to be surrounded by architecture, furniture, art, and objects that represent the honesty of their materials and the purity of intent in their creation.

 

Axel Vervoordt Gallery space, Hong Kong

In March 2019, Vervoordt, a legendary antiquaire, art dealer, architect and true visionary, who integrates the best of the past with a minimal sensibility of the present, announced a move to a new gallery space in Wong Chuk Hang. Five years after opening his first overseas venue in a prime location in Central Hong Kong’s Entertainment Building, Axel Vervoordt Gallery relocated to an expanded two-level space in Wong Chuk Hang, the dynamic artistic hub on the south part of Hong Kong Island. 

https://www.axel-vervoordt.com/gallery

From February 6 to May 8th, the extraordinary space is dedicated to an exhibition of the uniquely resonant paintings and objects by Korean artist, Chung Chang-Sup, (1927-2011), a leading member of the Dansaekha movement that began in South Korea in the 1970s. The pioneers of Dansaekhwa were born between 1913 and 1936. They rejected any references to Western representation in their work creating primarily monochrome and minimalist paintings. The artists also attempted to break away from the legacy of Japanese imperialism and Western abstraction. Their influence and presence in the international art market has grown thanks to the exhibitions at such galleries as Blum & Poe and Tina Kim, and of course Axel Vervoordt.

CHUNG Chang-Sup

Chung Chang-Sup

Chung Chang-Sup is a prominent figure of the Dansaekhwa monochrome movement, a synthesis of traditional Korean spirit and Western abstraction, which emerged in the early 1970s. His oeuvre reflects his Taoist belief that the artist must balance material and nature in the unified act of making in order to reach harmony.

After the world has suffered from the effects of the pandemic, feeling constricted at best, isolated, alone, and vulnerable economically and physically at worst, an exhibition of the quietly transformative beauty and peace found in the work of Chung Chang-Sup is more meaningful than ever.

DANSAEKHWA

Dansaekhwa, which remains a driving force in Korean contemporary art, has gained international recognition over the past few years. Although the Korean monochrome painting style has never been defined with a manifesto, the artists affiliated with it primarily share a restricted palette of neutral hues—namely white, beige, and black—hence the umbrella term dansaekhwa (single color). However, monochrome as such has not been the main focus nor the raison d’être of any of the Dansaekhwa leaders, whose unique ascetic vocabularies led to an overall aesthetics that is formally comparable to that of Western minimalism: process prevails. Artists of the Eastern Dansaekhwa movement and Western minimalism reacted to the intensity and gesture of abstract expressionism and sought to clear art of self-expression or the emotional outpouring that single strokes and vibrant colors evoke.

The term Dansaekhwa, or “monochrome painting,” may elude readers unfamiliar with Korean, but it represents arguably Korea’s most important art movement of the late 20th century. The artists who practiced this approach to painting began to emerge in the early 1970s, when the Republic of Korea was still under a military dictatorship. They included Park Seo-bo, Ha Chong-hyun, Yun Hyong-keun, Kim Whanki, Chung Chang-sup, Chung Sang-hwa, and Lee Ufan, among others. These painters were dissatisfied with the cultural lassitude in South Korea and began painting in a manner that challenged the normative aesthetic to which most Koreans were accustomed. At the outset, the artists worked independently without a group name or identity. It wasn’t until a 2000 exhibition at the Gwangju City Art Museum that the term Dansaekhwa was introduced.

The appearance of the word coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Gwangju uprising, an important moment in modern Korean history when protesters took to the streets to defy the military dictatorship in control at that time. In many respects this uprising was comparable to the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing nearly a decade later. Similarly, in Gwangju, armed soldiers opened fire on students and ordinary citizens in a series of clashes that cost  hundreds of lives. This sad but decisive historical event is generally cited as the end of the military government in South Korea and the beginning of a free democracy as the Republic is known today. Throughout the 1970s, prior to the Gwangju uprising, the oppressive regime was a binding force in the underground among the Dansaekhwa artists in Seoul.

https://hyperallergic.com/258279/koreas-monochrome-painting-movement-is-having-a-new-york-moment/

The LRFA blog is whispering Airport, Please! in honor of the quiet beauty of this exhibit.

 

Never too late for a recommendation by Doug Flamm, rare book expert at Gagosian

Brice Marden: Paintings and Drawings
Text by Klaus Kertess

I kept putting the same color on—the same color, the same color—but every time I put it on it was different. Each time it was this whole new light/color experience. It was not a revelation, but a whole wonderful new experience… To me, it involves harnessing some of the powers of the earth. Harnessing and communicating.
—Brice Marden

Brice Marden
D’Apres la marquise de la Solana, 1969
Collection of the Guggenheim Museum

 

A singular painter who has extended and refined the traditions of lyrical abstraction, Marden is a master of color and touch, from the subtle, shimmering monochromes of his earlier career to the calligraphic compositions that characterize the last three decades. Recently, Marden has turned his attention to the qualities of monochrome again, turning his gaze to the expansive possibilities of terre verte (green earth), an iron silicate/clay pigment. Terre verte came into use during the Renaissance, its greenish hue and innate transparency serving as a base to balance flesh tones; Marden first used it in connection with the Grove Group paintings of the 1970s (exhibited at Gagosian New York in 1991).

https://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/brice-marden–october-04-2017

 

Brice Marden
Cold Mountain 6 (Bridge)
1989-1991
San Francisco Museum of Art

BRICE MARDEN IS ONE OF THE VERY RARE ARTISTS WHO CAN RADICALLY CHANGE STYLES MID-CAREER AND NOT ONLY SURVIVE BUT THRIVE IN THE HIGHLY COMPLEX AND CRITICAL ART MARKET.  FROM THE EXQUISITE MONOCHROMES OF THE 70s, THE COLD MOUNTAIN PAINTINGS, LYRICAL CALLIGRAPHIC ABSTRACTIONS SOMETIMES PAINTED WITH STICKS AND NOT BRUSHES TO OBTAIN A MORE GESTURAL AND ORGANIC EFFECT, TO THE RECENT TERRE VERTE SERIES  EXHIBITED AT GAGOSIAN IN LONDON’S GROSVENOR HILL GALLERY, BRICE MARDEN CONSISTENTLY CONTRIBUTES TO THE HISTORY OF ABSTRACTION IN PARTICULAR AND TO ART IN GENERAL.

The Third Mind: Interview with Brice Marden, December 7, 2016

HIS FIRST DEALER, KLAUS KERTESS, WAS A REVERED GALLEREST AND CURATOR.

Visiting the “Primary Structures” show of Minimalism at the Jewish Museum in 1966, Kertess was told by an artist friend that he should go see an artist named Brice Marden. Marden, as it happened, was working as a guard on the second floor of the museum.

“Brice was somewhat wasted, leaning against a case of silver,” Kertess recalled. “He was one of several artists where the door opened and I just stood there in wonder.” Marden would end up showing with the gallery, and becoming a friend, pointing the dealer to the studios of many other remarkable artists as well.

http://www.artnews.com/2016/10/09/klaus-kertess-foresighted-art-dealer-and-curator-dies-at-76/

 

Brice Marden
Terre Verte
Gagosian Gallery, London 2017

DOUG FLAMM, RARE BOOK EXPERT AT GAGOSIAN, 976 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK, HAS A RECOMMENDATION THAT IS AN EXCEPTIONAL ADDITION TO ANY LIBRARY ON MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART AT ANY TIME OF YEAR, A MONOGRAPH ON BRICE MARDEN WITH A TEXT BY KLAUS KERTESS THAT WILL ENRICH OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE ARTIST AND ADMIRATION FOR THE AUTHOR, SIGNED BY BOTH.

http://www.gagosian.com/shop/

 

BRICE MARDEN 

Paintings and Drawings

Text by Klaus Kertess

Published by Abrams, New York, 1992

12 1/4 × 11 1/2 inches (31 × 29.5 cm)

$1,500

———–

A major monograph on the work of Brice Marden with an insightful essay by Klaus Kertess. Kertess’ essay provides a perceptive understanding into Marden’s development as an artist as well as contextualizes the important role Marden has played in Abstraction in the second half of the 20th Century. Well illustrated with 133 full color plates, this volume also includes a selected biography and bibliography. Signed by both Kertess and Marden.

THANK YOU, DOUG, FOR CONTRIBUTING YOUR GREAT HOLIDAY RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE LRFA BLOG!

WISHING EVERYONE A HAPPY, HEALTHY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR.

Kate Abrams, Director at Hauser & Wirth, documents her early commitment to first-tier art

Katharine Abrams
Associate Director
Hauser & Wirth

HAUSER & WIRTH IS AN INTERNATIONAL GALLERY DEVOTED TO CONTEMPORARY AND MODERN ART FOUNDED IN ZURICH IN 1992 BY IWAN AND MANUELA WIRTH AND URSULA HAUSER. SINCE THAT TIME, THE GALLERY HAS EXPANDED EXPONENTIALLY TO ACCOMMODATE THE INNOVATIVE, RADICAL AND LARGE-SCALED WORKS PRODUCED BY MANY OF THE GALLERY ARTISTS. THE VENUES ARE BROAD IN SCOPE AND EACH SPACE UNIQUE IN FORM AND FUNCTION: AN EXCEPTIONAL SPACE ON LONDON’S SAVILE ROW, THE FORMER DIA FOUNDATION ON 22nd STREET IN NEW YORK’S CHELSEA, A CHIC TOWNHOUSE DESIGNED BY ANNABELLE SELLDORF ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE, A UNIQUE GALLERY AND MULTI-PURPOSE ARTS CENTER IN SOMERSET, ENGLAND, AND MOST RECENTLY, HAUSER & WIRTH OPENED A PHENOMENAL SPACE IN THE BURGEONING DOWNTOWN ARTS DISTRICT OF LOS ANGELES.

The Peggy Guggenheim Museum
Venice, Italy

TODAY, THE GALLERY IS A GLOBAL ENTERPRISE THAT HAS A TRADITIONAL VALUE SYSTEM OF SUPPORTING ITS ARTISTS AND ARTIST ESTATES  BY PROVIDING REMARKABLE EXHIBITION SPACES AND THE SCHOLARSHIP, CATALOGUES, PUBLIC PROGRAMS AND EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES THAT SERVE TO CONTEXTUALIZE THE ART ON VIEW.

IT IS PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE MY FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE, KATHARINE ABRAMS, DIRECTOR AT HAUSER & WIRTH, TO THE LRFA BLOG. KATE’S PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE INCLUDES POSITIONS AT TWO HIGHLY RESPECTED GALLERIES, BARBARA GLADSTONE AND MARIAN GOODMAN, AND HER CAREER PATH HAS BEEN FOCUSED AND DIRECT.

The Saatchi Gallery
Iconoclasts: Art Out of the Mainstream

KATE, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE LRFA BLOG!

WHERE IS HOME? DID YOU GROW UP IN NEW YORK OR COME TO THE CITY TO ATTEND SCHOOL?

New York is home now, but I grew up in Los Angeles. I came to New York in 2006 to attend Columbia University. And then I stayed.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST INTRODUCTION TO MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART AND HOW DID IT LEAD YOU TO PURSUING A GALLERY CAREER?

My parents have always been interested in art and I grew up going to museums. But I think the first time it really resonated with me was when I was 13 and we went to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. I was totally transfixed. I also vividly remember visiting the Saatchi Gallery and the Tate in London when I was 16. Venice piqued my interest and then London solidified it.

The gallery career came about organically after college. I needed a job and I happened to get one at a gallery. At that time I was also open to non-profits and institutions as well. But I’m glad it happened the way it did.

Judd Foundation
Spring Street, New York

WHAT ARTISTS FIRST CAUGHT YOUR ATTENTION AND WHY?

I was always very interested in Minimalism, both aesthetically and intellectually. Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, Robert Morris – the greats. I was lucky to study closely with Branden Joseph, who came to Columbia the same year I did. First I took a lecture course on Minimalism and Post-Minimalism, and the following year I took a travel seminar where we went to Houston to see the Menil Collection and then to Marfa to see the Judd Foundation and Chinati. That trip was really important to me. I came back and immediately got an internship at the Judd Foundation on Spring Street.  

The Donald Judd Foundation
Chinati
Marfa, Texas

YOU MAJORED IN ART HISTORY AT COLUMBIA AND WROTE YOUR SENIOR THESIS ON ONE OF MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE ARTISTS, JAMES TURRELL. WHTAT PROMPTED THAT CHOICE AND WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS IN HIS WORK THAT RESONATE THE MOST STRONGLY?

After I got back from Marfa, I couldn’t stop thinking about the quality of the light there. The way the light interacts with Judd’s sculptures at Chinati – he purchased all the land surrounding the installation so that nothing would interrupt that. I started to be interested in the phenomenology of perception and light as a medium. A lot of people are familiar with Turrell’s projection pieces and skyspaces, but not as much about his earliest work in his studio in Venice, CA. He created a 10-hour performative piece called the ‘Mendota Stoppages’ using small apertures in the windows directed towards natural or artificial lights outside. The viewer would gradually adjust to the changing qualities of light in the space over time.

James Turrell
Mendota Stoppages

 

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, KATE ABRAMS WILL SHARE HER EARLY PROFESSIONAL PATH, FROM ONE GREAT GALLERY TO THE NEXT. WE ARE FORTUNATE TO HAVE SUCH A DEDICATED ART LOVER AND GALLERIST WITH US. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE.

 

Paula Cooper Gallery, a pioneer in contemporary art, first SoHo, now Chelsea

Carte Blanche to Paula Cooper Gallery Exhibition view, Patrick Seguin, Paris 2012

Carte Blanche to Paula Cooper Gallery
Exhibition view, Patrick Seguin, Paris 2012

PAULA COOPER IS AN EXTRAORDINARILY INNOVATIVE FORCE IN THE GALLERY WORLD, FIRST OPENING IN SOHO IN 1968 AND THEN, IN 1996, COMMISSIONING ART WORLD ARCHITECT RICHARD GLUCKMAN, A LEADING EXPERT IN ART GALLERY DESIGN,  TO CREATE AN ELEGANT EXHIBITION SPACE ON WEST 21st, THE CURRENT PRIMARY LOCATION OF PAULA COOPER GALLERY. http://www.paulacoopergallery.com/

WHEN THE GALLERY FIRST OPENED, SOHO WAS A HAVEN FOR ARTISTS’ LIVING LOFTS AND STUDIOS. ALMOST ALL OF SOHO  (SOuth of HOuston) WAS DESIGNATED AS A LANDMARK DISTRICT BY NEW YORK CITY’S LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION IN 1973, AND IS AN ARCHETYPAL EXAMPLE OF NEW YORK CITY’S REGENERATION AND GENTRIFICATION. NOW A HAVEN FOR COMMERCE, DESIGNER BOUTIQUES AND RESTAURANTS,  IN THE SIXTIES, THE LARGE CAST IRON WAREHOUSE SCALED BUILDINGS, ORIGINALLY USED FOR MANUFACTURING, WERE IDEAL FOR ACCOMMODATING THE LARGE-SCALED PAINTINGS, SCULPTURE AND INSTALLATION WHICH ENERGIZED POST-WORLD WAR II AMERICAN ART.

IN TODAY’S BLOG, ANTHONY ALLEN, A DEDICATED DIRECTOR AT THE GALLERY,  WILL PROVIDE AN OVERVIEW OF THE GALLERY’S ILLUSTRIOUS HISTORY AND UNIQUECONTRIBUTIONS TO CONTEMPORARY ART.

ANTHONY, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION.

WHAT PROMPTED PAULA TO OPEN THE FIRST GALLERY IN SOHO? I IMAGINE THAT MOST GALLERIES WERE IN MORE CONVENTIONAL “UPTOWN” SPACES WITH VERY FEW, IF ANY, SUPPORTING CONCEPTUAL AND MINIMAL ART.

Many artists lived in Soho at the time.  I wish I had been there to experience it firsthand. I love talking to people who did –  there was such an exciting atmosphere of experimentation, a tighter community of artists, group allegiances and independent spirits, all participating in connected conversations about art – and all of this was taking place in a heightened political and social climate.  Paula had always been close to the artists she worked with, she had been the director of Park Place (an artist collective that included Mark di Suvero, Bob Grosvenor, Forrest Myers and others).  So I think it was both a natural decision and a very gutsy one at the same time.  The gallery quickly became a kind of cultural hub.

WHAT WERE THE FIRST EXHIBITIONS AT THE GALLERY AND HOW RESPONSIVE WERE COLLECTORS AND MUSEUMS TO CONCEPTUAL AND MINIMAL ART? AT THIS POINT, THESE ARE SUCH HIGHLY REGARDED AND REVERED ART FORMS WITH ENORMOUS SECONDARY MARKET VALUE, BUT AT ITS INCEPTION, I AM CERTAIN THERE WAS RESISTANCE AND LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF THESE MORE CEREBRAL EXPRESSIONS.

As you mentioned earlier, the first exhibition was a benefit for the student mobilization committee against the war in Vietnam. It has become one of these legendary, ground-breaking shows.  There were many significant shows over the years, including Jennifer Bartlett’s Rhapsody, now in MoMA’s collection (it was recently installed in the museum’s atrium), Gober’s exhibitions on gender and sexuality in the 1990s.  A couple of years ago we were invited by the Parisian gallery Patrick Seguin to present works by our artists in Paris during the FIAC art fair. It gave us an occasion to revisit the gallery’s history. We presented a “Monument to Tatlin” by Flavin, a beautiful LeWitt wall drawing, a monumental Carl Andre, early works by Jennifer Bartlett, Hans Haacke, Walter de Maria, Joel Shapiro, Jackie Winsor, and more – all from the 1960s and 1970s. At the same time, with a 1976 film by Bruce Conner titled CROSSROADS, we were able to extend and modulate this historical overview with the work of an artist we’ve started working with recently.

 

Mark di Suvero,  Little Dancer Exhibition view "Mark di Suvero", 2013

Mark di Suvero,
Little Dancer
Exhibition view “Mark di Suvero”, 2013

IN 1996, THE GALLERY MOVED TO CHELSEA TO A LANDMARK 20th CENTURY BUILDING REDESIGNED BY ARCHITECT RICHARD GLUCKMAN.  WHAT PROMPTED THE MOVE AND WHAT WERE SOME OF THE REQUISITES OF THE NEW, AND BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED CURRENT SPACE?

By the mid-1990s, Soho was well on its way to becoming what it is now, with its throngs of shoppers and tourists.  Chelsea, on the other hand, had a plethora of large industrial spaces.  Our space had been a warehouse and a taxi repair shop, among other things.  It is almost perfectly square in shape, roughly 48 x 48 feet, a soaring space with beautiful wooden rafters.  It is obviously very well suited to large sculpture, but also very adaptable.  And artists have contended with the space in very interesting ways.  Mark di Suvero’s work always looks amazing.  I can also think of several groundbreaking Rudolf Stingel exhibitions, one in particular, in 2009, consisting of 16 x 13” photorealistic portraits of medieval saints, a single one on each wall, each commanding the space as if challenging it, in a really powerful way.

 

Rudolf Stingel Exhibition view, 2009 Paula Cooper Gallery

Rudolf Stingel
Exhibition view, 2009
Paula Cooper Gallery

IN OUR NEXT POST, ANTHONY ALLEN WILL SHARE HIS EXPERTISE AND INSIGHT ON THE ECONOMIC AND AESTHETIC WAYS IN WHICH THE GALLERY HAS RESPONDED TO THE ART WORLD’S CHANGING CLIMATE. BY TRACKING THE HISTORY OF THIS PIONEER GALLERY AND ITS THOUGHTFUL AND METICULOUS EVOLUTION, WE CAN TRACE THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONTEMPORARY ART WORLD FROM ITS NASCENT STAGES TO ITS CURRENTLY COMPLEX AND INTERNATIONAL  PRESENCE.

I WELCOME ALL COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS AND APPRECIATE YOUR CONTINUED READERSHIP AND SUPPORT.