This July, I’ll be teaching a course I developed on the intersections of contemporary art and science, for Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). My students are advanced high schoolers, attending two-week courses on physics, robotics, aerospace engineering, and biology, among other lab sciences. Many of them have had no academic art experience. We begin the first day by discussing where the boundaries might be between the two disciplines, listing responses to “what do scientists do?” and “what do artists do?” Experiment, create, observe, invent, analyze – they quickly realize that there are many overlaps, but no clear divisions.
Mark Dion noted in Art:21 Season 4 that humor, irony, and metaphor are tools artists have that scientists don’t. Or, as a recent New York Times review of the exhibition Dead or Alive at the Museum of Arts and Design (New York), put it – “artists are allowed to make stuff up and scientists really shouldn’t.” Is truth, then, the burden of scientists? This has been fertile ground for contemporary artists like Dion, Walton Ford, Alexis Rockman, and Walmor Correa, among many others. Their work challenges both the authoritative scientific voice and the structure of its presentation.
I’m interested in raising this question here, as I do in my classroom, because it continues to be a point of debate in the academic community, as it relates to practicing and teaching the two disciplines. Over and over again in current discussions about education, an interdisciplinary approach is stressed, and the Renaissance is held up as the ideal academic environment, a time when intellectual pursuits were not as narrowly defined. Leonardo had it made, we’re led to believe, because he could work fluidly between what we now know as art and science.
In this week’s roundup you’ll read about Tasmanian wolves, patented patterns, cartoon anthropomorphism, ancient mythology, portico projections, and a big gift:
- Bestiarium, a large-scale survey exhibition of watercolor paintings by Season 2 artist Walton Ford, is on view at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. His new large-scale painting The Island, recently acquired by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Betonville, Arkansas, is included in the exhibition. In this composition Ford presents, via the press release, “a writhing pyramidal mass of Tasmanian wolves (thylacines) grappling with each other and a few doomed lambs. The violent extermination of the thylacines, which were hunted to extinction in the early 20th century, calls into question who is hunter and hunted in this savage tableau.” Bestiarium is on view in Berlin through May 24. In June, the show will travel to Vienna’s Albertina Museum. This is Ford’s first show in Europe.
- Through March 21, Vancouver Art Gallery will project works from the exhibition CUE: Artists’ Videos onto the portico of their Robson Street facade. The show consists of more than 80 titles by artists from countries across the globe, such as Art21′s William Kentridge (Season 5). Cinematic language in video, and the unfolding of world events are some of the subjects covered in CUE. The videos have been arranged into seven thematic programs. Each program runs continuously on selected days between 5am – 2am.
- Works by Raymond Pettibon (Season 2) are on view in the group exhibition Shudder at The Drawing Room in London. The artists in Shudder use animation to develop characters and investigate personal states of mind and relationships. Their works tap into, among other things, the cartoon tradition of anthropomorphism. Shudder will include a brand new piece by Pettibon titled Zephyr; the artist describes it as a baby playing with the wind and traveling in the sky. Zephyr continues the themes explored in Pettibon’s The Place, Where We Were created in 2008. Shudder continues through March 14.
- On January 27, London’s contemporary art gallery Sadie Coles HQ will open an exhibition of works by Season 2 artist Matthew Barney. Barney will present a new group of drawings related to his performance and film project Ancient Evenings, based on Norman Mailer’s bestselling novel by the same title. Mailer’s 1983 text reimagined ancient Egyptian mythology and ritual. Barney’s operatic performance (a collaboration with composer Jonathan Bepler) occurs in seven acts symbolizing the seven stages the soul passes through after death in ancient Egyptian belief: Ren, Khu, Sekhem, Ba, Ka, Khaibit and Sekhu. The exhibition closes on March 6.
- Get a closer look at a new installation by Season 1 artist Barry McGee on the blog Arrested Motion. According to SLAMXHYPE, this installation — part of SF MoMA’s year-long Anniversary Show — is made up of many individual works created over the years including drawings, personal photos, and McGee’s iconic (and patented) patterns. The installation is on view through January 2011.
- Kelowna.com reports that Toronto art collector and philanthropist Ydessa Hendeles has offered to donate 32 Canadian and international works to the Art Gallery of Ontario. This would be the biggest single gift of contemporary art in the museum’s history. The donation includes works by artists Krzysztof Wodiczko (Season 3), James Coleman, Gary Hill, Thomas Schutte, Kim Adams, Ian Carr-Harris, Max Dean, Betty Goodwin, and Liz Magor. Plans are underway to exhibit the Hendeles donation within the next 18 months.
- Alfredo Jaar (Season 4) will participate in the panel discussion “Participatory Art: Creative Approaches to the Concept of Community“ organized by LaRete Art Projects and the Legislative Assembly of the Emilia Romagna Region in Italy. The event is part of Arte Fiera Art First 2010, Bologna, a yearly international art fair for modern and contemporary art. The event takes place Saturday, January 30 at 2pm.
In this week’s roundup, Art21 artists play with fire, sign new books, design stained glass, collage basketballs, create new films, and pop up in Miami Beach exhibitions:
- Carl Solway Gallery in Cincinnati is paying homage to installation art with their exhibition Walls, Ceiling & Floors, which focuses on the transformation of space through large-scale works by 15 different artists. Among them is Ohio native Ann Hamilton (Season 1) who has delicately burned walls of the space (pictured above) to “create a dense environment.” Walls, Ceiling & Floors continues through December 23.
- The Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio has announced that Mark Bradford (Season 4) is one of three recipients of their 2009-10 Residency Award. Bradford will develop new work for his survey exhibition Mark Bradford: You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You), on view at the Wexner beginning May 8, 2010. His projects will include a new sculpture entitled Lazarus, comprised of more than 1,000 collaged basketballs; Pinocchio, a sound-based sculptural environment that explores the social experiences of a young black man growing up in L.A. in the early 1980s; and the film Mithra, which documents and reflects on his mammoth public sculpture created for Prospect.1 in New Orleans.
- Kiki Smith (Season 2) has been commissioned (along with architect Deborah Gans) to design a stained glass window for the Eldridge Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Founded in 1887, the original window has been missing since the mid 1940s, when the congregation had it removed due to high maintenance costs. The new window is scheduled for completion in the spring. The New York Times is one of many media outlets to report on this commission; read more about the project on their Arts Beat blog.
- On Wed., December 2, Walton Ford (Season 2) will lecture and sign copies of his new book, Pancha Tantra, at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. The program begins at 6:30pm and is free and open to the public. (New paintings by Ford are on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York through December 23.)
- Paste Up, a survey of early work by Barbara Kruger (Season 1), is on view at Sprueth Magers London through January 23. The title of the exhibition reflects the professional term for the works on view and underscores the influence Kruger’s experience as a magazine editorial designer had on her career.
- Spazialismo, a group exhibition at Bitforms Gallery in New York City, takes the writings of Argentinian artist Lucio Fontana as its point of departure. Through works by Matthew Ritchie (Season 3), Mel Bochner, R. Luke DuBois, Michael Joaquin Grey, and Yael Kanarek, Fontana’s mid-twentieth century concepts of space in the modern yet natural world are explored. Spazialismo closes December 30.
If you’re in Florida this week for Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), here’s a few things to check out:
- The annual Rubell Family Collection exhibition is this year inspired by Picasso’s saying, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Beg, Borrow, and Steal highlights the works of 74 late and living artists who “embrace their influences even as they reinvent them.” Works by Mike Kelley, Barbara Kruger (both Season 1), Jenny Holzer (Season 4), Cindy Sherman, John Baldessari, Allan McCollum, Jeff Koons, and Paul McCarthy (all Season 5) are included in this display. The Collection opens at 9am on Wed., December 2. Admission is free during ABMB.
- On Thurs., December 3 at noon, the Bass Museum of Art will debut Latin America’s largest private collection of contemporary art; the collection has never before been shown in the United States. Where Do We Go From Here? Selections from La Coleccion Jumex brings together familiar names on the international art circuit, such as Mike Kelley (Season 1) and Urs Fisher, with Mexican conceptualists Damian Ortega, Inaki Bonillas and Stephan Bruggeman. Visitors with a Bass Museum invitation, VIP card, exhibitor’s pass, press pass, or Bass Museum membership card can attend the opening reception on Wed., December 2, 8-10pm.
- The Swiss Institute has published a calendar of New York artists photographed on their bicycles. Collier Schorr (Season 2), Pierre Huyghe (Season 4), and Cindy Sherman (Season 5) are pictured. This limited-edition piece will be unveiled later this week at ABMB, however, it can be immediately ordered online or downloaded as a PDF.
- On Fri., December 4, catch up with Schorr at the book launch for Forest and Fields. Volume 2. Blumen. Forest and Fields is an ongoing suite of artist’s books; each volume is part diary, photo annual, palimpsest, and scrapbook. In the latest release, Schorr focuses on arrangements in landscapes and domestic and commercial settings. This program is part of ABMB Salon, an open platform for discussion with an emphasis on current themes in contemporary art. The event begins at 5pm.
Where in the world are Art21 artists?
- In Germany — where the Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago today — a new suite of paintings by Season 5 artist Julie Mehretu is on view at the Deutsche Guggenheim. This specially commissioned body of work, titled Grey Area, evokes the “psychogeography” of the city of Berlin and its past, raising matters of erasure, decay, and liminality. A number of programs will be held throughout the exhibition, including a lecture by culture journalist and author Magdalena Kroener; and a commissioned concert by Jochen Neurath based on Mehretu’s new paintings. Get the complete schedule here.
- Also in Berlin, an exhibition of works by John Baldessari (Season 5) will open at Sprüth Magers Gallery on November 20. In Hands And/Or Feet (Part Two) Baldessari takes these extremities as his focus in five large-scale diptychs of found photographs or media images, characteristically painted over and colored in by the artist.
- In London, Stephen Friedman Gallery is displaying works by Season 5 artist Yinka Shonibare. Several “meaty” images of Shonibare’s new photographic and sculptural series, which is based on both Arthur Miller’s protagonist Willy Loman, and an early photograph of a fatal car crash, are available on the gallery’s website.
- Circling around to California, beginning November 14 new paintings by Jeff Koons (Season 5) will be on display at Gagosian Gallery Beverly Hills. “At first glance,” reads the press release, “the works may seem abstract and gestural, but at the same time they are embedded in the traditions of figurative painting. The brush strokes, which are photorealistic in their application, are actually fake brush strokes in the style of Roy Lichtenstein.” On view through January 9, 2010.
- Down in Atlanta, Trenton Doyle Hancock (Season 2) will deliver a lecture at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) as part of their inaugural deFINE ART festival, which celebrates the SCAD School of Fine Arts. The event takes place on November 11 at 7 pm.
- Here in New York there’s a lot happening as usual: On November 12 Stitches opens at Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller Gallery in midtown. This large group exhibition, curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody, will feature works by Louise Bourgeois (Season 2) and Kiki Smith (Season 2) among others.
- Opening that same day at Paul Kasmin Gallery (in the Chelsea art district) is an exhibition of new paintings by Walton Ford (Season 2). Works on view include In The Island, a painting conjuring the paranoia that caused Tasmanian settlers to hunt thylacines into extinction in the 20th century. The show continues through December 23.
- And last but not least, the exhibition Roni Horn aka Roni Horn at the Whitney Museum of American Art has been reviewed by Roberta Smith of the New York Times. She writes of Horn (Season 3): “She has expanded the art of drawing with works that swing dramatically between intimate and monumental. Her method involves splicing two or more smaller sheets with nearly identical images into a single very large one — a process that cannily combines carving, cartography and quilting. In breathtaking photographs she has documented the terrain, shoreline and geothermal wonders of Iceland, whose strange, isolated beauty is one of the mainstays of her art.” Read the entire piece here.
- New photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto (Season 3) are on view at Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco through October 31. Sugimoto’s latest body of work titled Lightning Fields depicts electricity. To create each image, the artist uses a Van De Graaff 400,000-volt generator to apply an electrical charge directly onto film. The result in each case is a unique, instantaneous image of an electrical current, sometimes resembling a meteor shower, or a “treeing effect” on the film.
- On October 21, Season 2 artist Walton Ford will sign copies of the popular edition of Walton Ford: Pancha Tantra at the TASCHEN Store in New York (107 Greene Street). Only 100 copies of the book will be available. The ticketed event begins at 7pm; reservations are accepted via telephone. New work by Ford will be displayed at Paul Kasmin Gallery beginning November 12.
- October 27 – December 23, two sculptures by Richard Serra (Season 1) — Blind Spot (2002-2003) and Open Ended (2007-2008) — will be on view at Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea. These similar concentric structures each consist of six weatherproof steel plates. Open Ended was exhibited at Gagosian Gallery in London last year. The New York exhibition brings both sculptures together for the first time.
- On November 7, a new stage performance by Season 5 artist Cao Fei will premiere at Teatro Astra/Artissima 16 Theatre Project in Turin. RMB City Opera (part of Fei’s ongoing RMB City project in Second Life) is based on the “model dramas” (Yang Ban Xi) of the Cultural Revolution period. Yang Ban Xi were the only politically-approved types of performance at the time, as traditional opera was banned by Mao Zedong’s wife, Jiang Qing. Read more about RMB City Opera here.
- Art Review has released their 2009 Power 100 list, a look at “who’s who in contemporary art,” and a “guide to general trends and forces that shape the artworld.” Bruce Nauman (Season 1) comes in at #10; Jeff Koons (Season 5) holds the #13 spot; Mike Kelley (Season 1) is #20; and John Baldessari (Season 5) ranks #37. View the complete list.
- Paul Laster of ArtKrush has reviewed the “massive, energetic show,” New York Minute: 60 Artists on the New York Scene, which includes work by Barry McGee (Season 1). “Exploring street punk, wild figuration, and new abstraction, the artists in this colorful show represent a new generation of creative minds, responding to the world around them in rapid and unpredictable ways,” writes Laster. Read the entire piece on Flavorwire.
- Two concurrent exhibitions by Season 2 artist Maya Lin at Pace Wildenstein and Salon 94 have been reviewed by Justin Wolf (also on Flavorwire). He writes: “While not unimpressive, [Recycled Landscapes, at Salon 94] pales next to its Chelsea counterpart, but maybe that’s the point. Here the utterly polished gallery space has been transformed into an obsessive-compulsive’s playroom; refinement infused with touches of juvenility.” Read more…
- The new issue of Parkett (no. 86) features artists Josiah McElheny (Season 3), John Baldessari (Season 5), Carol Bove and Philippe Parreno. See excerpts and images from the publication here.
- On September 23, Hauser & Wirth will open its first gallery in the United States with a reinvention of Allan Kaprow’s 1961 environment Yard by artist William Pope.L. Described as “a veritable mountain of black rubber auto tires and tar paper-wrapped forms through which visitors jumped and crawled,” the installation/happening will take place at 32 East 69th Street in Manhattan, the site of the work’s original creation and the address of the new Hauser & Wirth Gallery. Josiah McElheny (Season 3) and Sharon Hayes will each create their own versions of Yard at public sites in downtown Manhattan and Queens.
- Works by Kerry James Marshall (Season 1), Kara Walker (Season 2) and other artists were lost in a tragic fire at the home of collector Peggy Cooper Cafritz, who is said to have amassed one of the most important collections of African American art.
- A 2007 black-and-blue collage by Arturo Herrera (Season 3) is one of the many pieces from the collection of the defunct firm Lehman Brothers that will soon go on auction.
- The weekend of August 15-16, get a sneak peak of the publication Walton Ford: Pancha Tantra (Taschen Books) at the Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony and The Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Ford (Season 2) is being honored by both organizations. The popular edition release of the artist’s book will be available nationwide on September 10.
- Through August 21, works by Robert Ryman (Season 4), Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, and Robert Mangold are on view at Andrea Rosen Gallery. An exhibition of works on paper by John Currin runs concurrently.
- Vandalog and Juxtapoz both report that Alleged Press–the publishing company of artist, writer, musician, film director and independent curator Aaron Rose–will publish a Barry McGee (Season 1) monograph this Halloween.
- Also in October, works by McGee, Raymond Pettibon (Season 2) and Lari Pittman (Season 4) will make their way to Gagosian Gallery in New York City as part of the Stages exhibition, organized by cyclist Lance Amstrong.
- The Miami Art Museum recently acquired Triangle of Need, a video installation by Catherine Sullivan (Season 4). Her piece is on view at the museum through October 11.
- A full room installation by Season 2 artist Kiki Smith is included in the exhibition Space-Time at the National Glass Centre in the UK. The artist’s three-dimensional astrological star chart, with cut-glass stars and animals of the zodiac scattered across a night-blue paper carpet, titled Constellation, is on display through September 6.
- The Times Online (in association with Saatchi Gallery) is asking readers to vote for their favorite artists of the 20th and/or 21st century. At present, Art21′s Louise Bourgeois (Season 2) and Alfredo Jaar (Season 4) are included in the list of leading artists. The Top 200 will be revealed on May 25. Cast your vote now.
- On April 16, Hubbard & Birchler (Season 3) will lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The talk is the second in a series ssponsored by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership in conjunction with Confluence: Points of View on Buffalo Bayou, a public art project on Houston’s historic waterway.
- A site specific piece by Mark Dion (Season 4) has been added to the outdoor sculpture garden at the The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Antiquarian Book Shop (2008), the artist’s life-size curiosity shop, is filled with hundreds of books and collectibles from around the world. Learn more about the installation here.
- Chelsea visits Havana, an exhibition presented by Fundacion Amistad in conjunction with the 10th Biennial of Havana, features work by Season 2 artists Walton Ford and Matthew Barney, among others. The exhibition is part of the Bridges to Culture initiative, which uses the power of art to surmount the cultural, political and social boundaries between the United States and Cuba.
An exhibition of recent watercolor’s by Art21 artist Walton Ford (Season 2) opens tomorrow at Paul Kasmin Gallery. This is the artist’s first exhibition at the gallery since his traveling retrospective, Tigers Of Wrath, and the publication of Pancha Tantra, a comprehensive monograph of his work. The exhibition closes on July 3, 2008.
An excerpt from the press release:
“Ford is especially interested in the perceptions of animals by humans as evidenced by documentation. After researching specific stories, Ford offers his interpretation—sometimes exaggerating the animal’s supposed humanness and in other instances, stripping the animal of imposed metaphors, and thereby restoring the candor of the animal’s bestial state. The anthropomorphic nature of Ford’s animals is often compared to the work of artist, John J. Audubon, one of Ford’s many influences.”
The Taschen Books website features a short video of Ford in his Berkshires studio in December 2007.
Taschen, the German publisher specializing in art, design, and architecture, has released a new monographic masterpiece on Walton Ford, an artist featured in Season 2 who creates naturalistic and consistently surprising animal illustrations. Entitled Walton Ford: Pancha Tantra, this book is the first in-depth exploration of Ford‚Äôs body of work. It includes 12 horizontal and 4 vertical foldouts, along with dozen of details, Ford‚Äôs bio, an appendix with substantial excerpts from textual sources for Ford‚Äôs paintings, and an introduction by Bill Buford, writer and former fiction editor of the New Yorker (he is still a staff writer), where he often used Ford‚Äôs work to illustrate his stories. Pancha Tantra is hand-crafted and limited to a 1,600-copy limited edition signed by the artist.
In addition, for the exclusive Art edition, limited to the first 100 copies, Ford worked with master printer Peter Pettengill at Wingate Studio, New Hampshire, using the traditional techniques of line etching, aquatint, drypoint, and spite-bite aquatint to make Limed Blossoms, an original six-color intaglio print.
As the Spanish magazine El Pais Semanal points out, Walton Ford: Pancha Tantra is not just a luxury book, but a discovery of the artist himself, as is work is less familiar in Europe.
For more information about Walton Ford: Pancha Tantra and prices, visit Taschen‚Äôs website.