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The 2013 deCordova Biennial is a survey exhibition focused on art-making in New England today. Showcasing sculptors and painters alongside filmmakers and installation artists whose practices traverse a wide range of subject matter, the Biennial fills four floors of the Museum and extends into the Sculpture Park. Twenty-one artists and collaborative teams from all six northeastern states–CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, and VT–present signature and new works as well as site-specific commissions. These artworks variously invite visitors to consider how history is written, the nature of perception, abstraction today, and the current state of biennial participation. Ultimately, the Biennial aims to demonstrate the active, ambitious art scene that exists across New England today.
The 2013 deCordova Biennial Artists:
Patty Chang and David Kelley
John C. Gonzalez
Anthony Palocci, Jr.
Dushko Petrovich and Roger White
Suara Welitoff (2012 Rappaport Prize recipient)
The 2013 deCordova Biennial is made possible in part by generous support from the Deborah A. Hawkins Charitable Trust as well as Barbara and Jonathan Lee. Additional support for this exhibition has been provided in part by The Meredyth Hyatt Moses Fund.
Special thanks to The 2013 deCordova Biennial Advisory Board: Rachel Adams (The Contemporary Austin, TX), Nora Lawrence (Storm King Art Center, NY), and Sarah Suzuki (MoMA, NY).
Aaron Stephan recreates iconic twentieth-century sculptures in the everyday materials of deCordova’s architecture and facilities. Stephan uses the Sculpture Park’s railings and trash barrels to recontextualize modern sculptural masterpieces into the reality of a working sculpture park. In doing so, the installation explores how these abstract forms, embodying utopian ideals that have informed the history of contemporary sculpture, can live within their environment rather than outside of it.
The three-part installation begins on the Rappaport Rooftop Terrace with Monument on a Museum, a tongue-in-cheek recreation of Russian artist and architect Vladimir Tatlin’s Constructivist model, Tatlin’s Tower, for the Monument to the Third International (1919-20). Never built, the structure embodied the ideals of Soviet Socialism—the power of the common man within a new, modern world—through an avant-garde design of a twin helix tower made of glass, steel, and iron. Here, Stephan translates this humanistic optimism into handrails and wood, as if it sprouted from the Museum rooftop.
Moving along the timeline of art history is Untitled (16 Garbage Cans), located on the Sculpture Park Terrace. In this installation Stephan uses the shape of the Sculpture Park’s boxy metal trashcans to riff on Donald Judd’s repetitive, machine-made boxes that formed the cornerstone of Minimalist art and sculpture of the 1960s. Stephan, like Judd, uses serial, manufactured forms to explore the potential beauty of the mass produced object and the physicality of abstraction.
In the Sculpture Park, sited on a hill leading up to Sculpture Park Terrace, is Spilled Paint, inspired by Robert Smithson’s Glue Pour (1970) and Asphalt Rundown (1969). A key figure in the Earth Art movement of the 1970s, Smithson’s work utilized the landscape and the natural processes of gravity and entropy. Spilled Paint uses Smithson’s gesture of pouring but does so with the Museum’s gallery wall paint, Benjamin Moore’s atrium white, spilled down the hillside.
In each project, Stephan re-inscribes key moments in modern sculpture with the work-a-day material of an art museum and park, emphasizing the unglamorous and very functional side of art and the context in which it is viewed. Whereas many look at the museum and the art within it as a type of idealized space, Stephan notices the railings and trashcans and gallons of white paint in the back room that make these pristine gallery spaces and conditions possible. It is this, his installations argue, that may be the true history of art.
Stephan notes: “In my installation, I focus on the use of sculpture as an idealized or utopian space that is expressed through form. I have appropriated a group of iconic twentieth-century sculptures and contextualized them in the site. It could be said that the alleged autonomy of the borrowed form is corrupted by the reality of an everyday context. Hopefully these new works will explore the possibility of utopian form that stands within its environment rather than outside of it.”
Spilled Paint is no longer on view beginning September 25, 2013.
Monument on a Museum and Untitled (16 Garbage Cans) will be on view until April 1, 2014.
The 2012–2013 PLATFORM series is generously funded by James and Audrey Foster.
DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is proud to present its inaugural outdoor exhibition. Futurefarmers, Fritz Haeg, Jane D. Marsching, and Andi Sutton have each created alternative, sustainable engagements with the landscape in deCordova’s Sculpture Park. By using the Sculpture Park’s land as their primary material, the four projects on view ask us to rethink our relationship to our immediate and global environments through the less traditional art practices of farming, building, and research. While these artists are driven by social and environmental issues of climate change, local agriculture, and self-sustainability, they draw on a strong artistic tradition of extending the boundaries of what and where art can be.
Collaborative workshops and programs are integral parts of each installation, underscoring the importance of community and communal efforts in effecting change. Click the EVENTS tab to view WORK OUT programs.
WORK OUT features four new commissions:
Futurefarmers present Tree University, an outdoor classroom in which deCordova’s fallen trees (originally toppled during Hurricane Sandy) are used to explore all the creative possibilities that can stem from a single tree. The tree will slowly disappear, as the artists whittle and carve away its pieces into new objects (including pencils and a canoe), but its spirit will live on in these communal objects and experiences.
Fritz Haeg’s Domestic Integrities explores the ways in which local resources are harvested and brought into the domestic interior landscape of the home. As part of the project, a circular, 19-foot wide wild garden will be created in the Museum parking lot. Plants and vegetables grown in the parking lot garden will be presented inside the adjacent gallery, The Square, on a hand-crocheted rug made of used and discarded textiles.
Jane D. Marsching’s Field Station Concordia takes the form of a field station created from reclaimed materials in the dimensions of Henry Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, located down the road from deCordova. The structure operates as a field station for the artist for gathering data about the local ecology in the form of observations, handmade and virtual representations, and texts and maps. It gives visitors the opportunity to consider themselves citizen scientists. Check out photos from Jane D. Marsching's WORK OUT program for April Vacation.
Andi Sutton’s Assisted Flagration features nearly 100 handmade, seed-spreading sculptures shaped like pink flamingos. The pink flamingo-shaped seed-sowing structures are made from biodegradable material that, with time and weather, drop seeds of endangered wildflowers, grasses, and perennials. The installation examines the issues of diversity, belonging, migration, preservation, and the future of “native” and “local” species in the face of climate change.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
DeCordova is pleased to present the 25-year survey dedicated to American sculptor Tony Feher. This exhibition will be the first comprehensive, in-depth consideration of Feher’s career. It seeks to reveal the richness, complexity, and impact of his investigations through a careful selection of key works that revolve around a very personal, formal, material, and spatial vocabulary developed and refined over the years.
Feher’s materials range from bottles filled with colored water, to marbles and pennies, Styrofoam blocks and beverage crates, plastic bags and paper cups, to all kinds of packing materials. Although Feher's materials are quotidian and easily acquired, they are very specific, sought after, and chosen for their distinct and inimitable formal qualities. He stacks, dangles, unfolds, and aligns his materials to form sculptures of fluid lines, thoughtful rhythms and bursts of color and light that enable the viewer to observe and appreciate the beauty and poetry in the ordinary, everyday objects that surround them. The commonality of his materials and the apparent ease with which his works occupy their environment belie the rigorous nature of a practice driven by an incessant quest for moments of clarity, beauty, quietude.
Having come of age in an intellectual climate dominated by an overwhelming sense of endangerment due to the epidemic spread of AIDS, Feher, like so many artists of his generation, opted for humanism. His proud embrace of fragility, transience, and emotion, along with his preference for non-precious materials and found objects, has been highly influential for a younger generation of artists who have similarly become archivists of their own lives.
Purchase the exhibition catalogue here.
Tony Feher is organized by Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston.
The exhibition and publication are made possible, in part, by The Cecil Amelia Blaffer von Furstenberg Endowment for Exhibitions and Programs, Houston Endowment Inc., ACME., Anthony Meier Fine Arts, Hiram Butler and Devin Borden, D’Amelio Terras, Jennifer and Jeff Eldredge, The Pace Gallery, Despina Papafote Caldwell and Don Ballard, Julie A. Cohn and John A. Connor, Douglas and Jennifer Bosch, Martha Claire Tompkins, Sissy and Denny Kempner, Mary and Bernard Arocha, Leslie and Brad Bucher, Hiendarsanti Darmodjo, Heidi and David Gerger, Theodore J. Lee and Marc A. Sekula, Judy and Scott Nyquist, and Kenneth and Michelle Zagorski.
Major funding for Tony Feher at deCordova has been provided by the Lois and Richard England Family Foundation. Additional funding provided by Fotene Demoulas and Thomas Coté. Support for Interpretive Programming has been provided in part by a grant from the Nathaniel Saltonstall Arts Fund.
Special thanks to Donelan’s Supermarkets for their assistance in securing materials for this exhibition.
Over the past few years, deCordova has welcomed a fascinating cast of characters into its Permanent Collection—images by and of talented artists and performers as well as portrayals of everyday people packed with personality. Character Study features several of the Museum’s most recent acquisitions accompanied by the works of contemporary artists similarly captivated by the concept of character. Permanent Collection works by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Al Fisher, Megan and Murray McMillan, Arnold Newman, Irving Penn, Melissa Ann Pinney, David Prifti, robbinschilds, Sheron Rupp, and Rachel Perry Welty will be on view in conversation with photographs by Claire Beckett, Caleb Cole, Dulce Pinzón, and Millee Tibbs.
The result is a powerful medley of images that conveys all kinds of character(s): artist portraits and self-portraits, performers, civilians, soldiers, superheroes, and children. The subjects of these images range in age, era, gender and culture. To study them is to probe ever-expanding notions of identity formation and authenticity, constructed personas and hidden truths.
Acquired by the Museum in 2011, Arnold Newman’s black and white photographs of such artists as Max Ernst, Piet Mondrian, and Louise Nevelson are glimpses into the unique style and aesthetic associated with each of these twentieth-century art icons. Newman, the father of environmental portraiture, presents his subjects in their homes or studios, yet in a context that is carefully staged by the photographer based on his impressions of the sitters and their artistic individuality. For example, Newman captures a suited Mondrian in profile, seated next to his bare easel, which takes on the look of a streamlined, linear, sculptural form. Monochrome squares hang on the white wall in the background, thus perfectly rounding out this angular portrait of a de Stijl painter famous for his geometric abstractions.
Rachel Perry Welty’s colorful, life-size Lost in My Life (Price Tags) (2009) provides a provocative, contemporary counterpoint to Newman’s portraits. Here, the artist depicts herself facing away from the viewer, virtually consumed by a pattern of price tags that cover every inch of her physical environment as well as her dress and bag. Both Newman and Welty (whose multi-disciplinary practice thrives on her affinity for collecting the stuff of everyday life–fruit stickers, price tags, twist ties, voicemails, etc.) offer images of artists that communicate aspects of their subjects’ creative impulses. These portraits set the stage for reading this show with an eye towards the many facets of character–both innate and constructed.
The tendency to formulate, reveal, or complicate definitions of character is made manifest across this exhibition and the artists included in Character Study address this concept in unique and evocative ways. Character can be found in Melissa Ann Pinney’s Annie (2008)–a portrait of an adolescent girl in front of a bathroom mirror, Maria Magdalena Compos-Pons’ Blue Refuge (2008)–an image of a woman, the artist herself, enveloped by the complexities of culture, Al Fisher’s Mime (1984)–an ode to street performers, or Caleb Cole’s images from the ongoing series, “Other Peoples Clothes,” in which he assumes the identity of a person—male or female—he imagines would have worn his thrift-store fashion finds.
Character Study also provides a small but significant window into current deCordova collecting practices. Some of the works on view were first displayed in previous deCordova exhibitions, while others—shown here for the first time—were acquired to complement the Museum’s holding in contemporary photography. Character Study proudly highlights these recent acquisitions while profiling the prominent themes of performance, personality, and persona in photography today.
Character Study is organized by Koch Curatorial Fellow Mary M. Tinti.
Character Study is made possible in part by the generous support of an anonymous donor.
This exhibition will be installed in the Dewey Family Gallery (3rd floor).
PAINT THINGS navigates the recent direction of contemporary artists to expand painting beyond the stretcher into sculptural forms. This group exhibition focuses on the growing spatial and material freedom in painting as it merges with installation and sculpture. It invites viewers to collectively re-examine the age-old practice of painting in a new light and consider the limitless possibilities for the future of the medium and its physical context. Its expansion and spatial investigations by exhibiting artists asks us to think about painting as it relates to physical, social, political, and emotional space.
Featured artists include Claire Ashley, Katie Bell, Sarah Braman, Sarah Cain, Alex Da Corte, Cheryl Donegan, Franklin Evans, Kate Gilmore, Alex Hubbard, James Hyde, Sean Kennedy, Wilson Lawrence, Steve Locke, Analia Saban, Allison Schulnik, Jessica Stockholder, Mika Tajima, and Summer Wheat.
PAINT THINGS is organized by deCordova Curator Dina Deitsch and Guest Curator Evan Garza, Exhibitions and Public Programs Coordinator, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, former Editor-at-Large for New American Paintings, and co-founder of the Fire Island Artist Residency.
PAINT THINGS is made possible in part by the generous support of Donald and Jeanne Stanton and by additional support from Geoff Hargadon and Patricia LaValley. Additional funding has been provided by Manuel de Santaren and by Beth and Richard Marcus.
Take a video tour through PAINT THINGS: