Monday, August 17, 2009
Located in the nation’s capital, the Hirshhorn brings the work of international modern and contemporary artists to more than 650,000 visitors each year. The museum affirms its commitment to presenting fresh perspectives on central figures in 20th-century art and bringing forward the work of influential contemporary artists with upcoming monographic surveys of the work of Anne Truitt, Yves Klein and Guillermo Kuitca. The 2009 fall season kicks off with a major retrospective of the late Washington-based artist Anne Truitt that spans the artist’s 40-year career. A new “Directions” project by Irish artist John Gerrard uses customized 3-D gaming software to re-imagine landscape art. On the lower level, “Strange Bodies” continues to explore figurative works from the collection with some exciting additions, including pieces by Yinka Shonibare and emerging artists Nicholas and Sheila Pye. The first major exhibition of the works of French artist Yves Klein to tour the United States in 30 years makes its debut at the Hirshhorn in 2010.
“Sunset Song” (2003) a sound installation by Susan Philipsz
In the Sculpture Garden, summer 2009
Scottish artist Susan Philipsz creates sound works for reflective spaces that often investigate gender issues. She records her own voice singing songs from films, seventies and eighties pop, folk songs (as in “Sunset Song”) and recent music a capella, unedited, imperfect and punctuated with silences.
“Sunset Song” was recently acquired and is the first work by the artist to enter the collection. The eight-minute work takes its name from the old Scottish term for a melancholy song dedicated to something or someone that no longer exists. For “Sunset Song,” Philipsz sang two versions of a well-known American murder ballad, “The Banks of the Ohio.” In the first rendition, a woman tells the story of how she stabbed her lover when he refused to marry her. In the second version, the artist sings from the point of view of a man who drowns his lover, because she would not marry him. The work confronts the visitor with issues of gender, time and context in addition to issues that Philipsz’ practice addresses more generally, such as space, sound as object and narrative. Pictured: Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden.
“UP7TH: Beyond our Walls”
September 30, 2009
A new work by Russian-born graphic artist David Polonsky debuts on three massive high-resolution LED screens near the entrance to the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro station, located north of the Hirshhorn Museum at Seventh and H Streets, NW. The 30-second animation will be shown several times each hour, reaching a daily audience of more than 115,000 people and reinforcing the Hirshhorn’s commitment to providing a platform for artists working in film, video and other new media. Developed in collaboration with Orange Barrel Media, a firm specializing in cutting-edge digital communications, “UP7TH” is the result of a dynamic partnership between the latest in technology and the best in contemporary art.
Polonsky is best known for his work as art director and lead artist on the Oscar-nominated film “Waltz with Bashir.” Based in Tel-Aviv and recently an artist-in-residence at Rhode Island School of Design, Polonsky is currently working on an animated science-fiction feature. This project is organized by associate curator Kelly Gordon.
“Anne Truitt: Perception and Reflection”
Oct. 8, 2009–Jan. 3, 2010
The first major retrospective of Truitt’s work since 1974, “Anne Truitt: Perception and Reflection” is a survey of two- and three-dimensional works made during the artist’s 40-year career. Large-scale sculptures will be on view, including formative pieces from the early 1960s that suggest the architectural environment of the artist’s childhood on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, as well as the columnar sculptures that became the hallmark of Truitt’s practice. Acting as a painter as well as a sculptor, the artist wrapped color around the corners of these sculptures, creating visually poetic relationships between structure and surface. Throughout her work, she investigated proportion, scale and color, as well as perception and memory.
After leaving the field of clinical psychology in the mid-1940s, Truitt began making figurative sculptures, but turned toward reduced geometric forms after seeing works by Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt in 1961. Despite affinities to the paintings of the Color Field artists often associated with Washington, D.C., and the sculpture of artists who came to be known as Minimalists, from the outset Truitt’s art was an independent exploration of abstraction and personal references and has remained largely under-recognized for her contribution to post-1960 art. The exhibition is accompanied by the most comprehensive monograph on the artist to date.
“Anne Truitt: Perception and Reflection” is organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The exhibition is made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Judith Rothschild Foundation and the Anne Truitt Patrons Committee, with additional support from the Hirshhorn Board of Trustees and the museum’s Annual Circle donors. The Anne Truitt Patrons Committee co-chairs are Tim Gunn and Martin Puryear. On Oct. 8 at 7 p.m., Gunn, chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne and a former student of Truitt’s, moderates a panel discussion of friends and colleagues of the artist, including Puryear, Jem Cohen and John Gossage. On Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Lerner Room, Hileman, the exhibition curator, delivers the lecture “Arriving at an Art Historical Anne Truitt.”
“Directions: John Gerrard”
Nov. 5, 2009–May 31, 2010
New technologies offer artists opportunities to create works with dimensions no one has seen before—an exciting possibility that sometimes results in work that is flashy in form yet lacking in resonant content. Recent work by Irish artist John Gerrard is a rare exception. He uses customized 3-D gaming software to re-imagine landscape art. A former student of the Art Institute of Chicago, Gerrard is inspired by the look, the history and politics of the Dust Bowl region. He creates contemplative, vivid scenes of farms and oil fields that raise questions about the effect of human progress on the environment. For the works in this exhibition, Gerrard photographed actual sites from 360 degrees and then simulated cinematic movement around the sites using the computer, complete with shifting, natural lighting effects. In response to Gerrard’s works on view at the 2009 Venice Biennale, Blake Gopnik of “The Washington Post” wrote, “The projected landscapes…are more compellingly real than any art you’re likely to have seen.” This exhibition is organized by associate curator Kelly Gordan. “Directions: John Gerrard” is made possible in part by Trellis Fund.
“Black Box: Phoebe Greenberg”
Nov. 30, 2009–April 4, 2010
Curator and arts advocate Phoebe Greenberg’s “Next Floor” (2008) is inspired by the lavish cinematic tableaux associated with Peter Greenaway and responds to the endless appetites of pre-economic crash consumerism. Creator and producer Greenberg worked with Caroline Binet, Denis Villeneuve, Jacques Davidts and a full feature film-style team to bring this part dream, part morality tale scenario to life. “In this absurd and grotesque universe,” Greenberg says, “an unexpected sequence of events undermines the endless symphony of abundance.” The themes suggested by “Next Floor” continue to resonate during a time of global struggle to regain economic equilibrium. In 2008, the 12-minute film was awarded Best Short Film in Cannes. This exhibition is organized by associate curator Kelly Gordon. Support for the Black Box program is provided, in part, by Lawrence A. Cohen/Ringler Associates.
May 20–Sept. 12, 2010
The Hirshhorn is the opening venue for “Yves Klein,” the first major exhibition of the highly influential French artist to tour the United States in nearly 30 years. Co-organized by the Hirshhorn and Walker Art Center, “Yves Klein” examines the artist’s life and work from the mid-1950s to his untimely death in 1962. An artist, composer, judo master, Rosicrucian, proto-conceptualist and performance artist, Klein carved out new aesthetic and theoretical territory and became one of the most influential figures in 20th-century art. The exhibition features more than 90 artworks, including many of Klein’s most well-known paintings and sculptures, as well as a selection of the artist’s drawings, documents, photographs and film works. In his series, including the “Monochromes,” “Anthropometries,” “Cosmogonies,” “Air Architecture,” “Fire Paintings,” “Sponge Reliefs” and “Actions,” Klein sought to place the immaterial at the heart of his work.
“Yves Klein” opens at the Hirshhorn and travels to the Walker Art Center (Oct. 23–Feb. 13, 2011). The exhibition is co-curated by Hirshhorn deputy director and chief curator Kerry Brougher and DIA Art Foundation director Philippe Vergne. A fully illustrated catalog containing critical essays by the co-curators and noted scholars accompanies the exhibition.
“Guillermo Kuitca: Everything”
Oct. 21, 2010–Jan. 9, 2011
This exhibiton is the first comprehensive survey of Argentinean artist Guillermo Kuitca’s work to travel in the United States in more than 10 years. The show is co-organized by the Hirshhorn; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y.; and the Miami Art Museum. Examining nearly three decades of the artist’s career and including more than 60 canvases and works on paper made between 1980 and 2008, the exhibition presents themes and motifs central to Kuitca’s work through a range of spatial, architectural, cartographic and theatrical imagery. The installation also foregrounds the artist’s ongoing investigation of such issues as place and non-place, memory and loss and migration and displacement.
“Guillermo Kuitca: Everything” opens in Miami in Oct. 2009, travels to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Feb. 19–May 30, 2010) and the Walker Art Center (June 26–Sept. 19, 2010) before completing its tour at the Hirshhorn. The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive, fully illustrated catalog that includes essays by Douglas Dreishpoon, chief curator, Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Olga Viso, director, Walker Art Center; Terence Riley, director, Miami Art Museum; and Andreas Huyssen, Villard professor of German and comparative literature at Columbia University. The book also features a series of interviews with the artist recorded between 1997 and 2008 by noted Argentinean author Graciela Speranza. Major funding is provided by the Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation, AXA Group and the Leadership and Honorary Patrons Committees for the exhibition, with additional catalog support from Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.
Currently on View:
“Directions: Walead Beshty, Legibility on Color Backgrounds”
Through Sept. 13, 2009
Walead Beshty creates tantalizing works that blend a fascination with Modernist visual culture and an incisive inquiry into the nature of art. He often makes use of historical formats and media, such as photograms and stereographs, but equally embraces more recent technologies and approaches, including color processing and outsourcing of his sculptures to industrial fabricators. Beshty’s “Directions” project features recent photograms and glass sculptures that together pose questions about the material premises of their respective media, the nature of abstraction, as well as the production, valuation and consumption of art.
This exhibition is organized by associate curator Evelyn Hankins. “Directions: Walead Beshty, Legibility on Color Backgrounds” is made possible in part by Trellis Fund.
“Black Box: Guido van der Werve”
Through Oct. 11, 2009
Guido van der Werve is an accomplished classical pianist, composer and chess player who studied industrial design, archeology and Russian before focusing on fine art—first on painting, then performance work and finally, film. To date, he has completed 10 short film works that he describes as “possible scenarios of imaginary realities.”
The artist is often at the center of his elaborate and sly dramas: playing piano on a float in the middle of a lake, launching an asteroid back into space, greeting a troupe of ballerinas in the middle of the street, hoisting a grand piano through his apartment window and turning slowly in the opposite direction of the earth’s rotation while standing on the North Pole. In “Nummer Acht (#8) everything is going to be alright” (2007), van der Werve plods just ahead of a gigantic ice-breaker as it crashes through the Gulf of Bothnia in Finland. His predicament is absurd but poignant, harrowing but endless. Van der Werve represents an everyman who presses on despite all peril. Support for the Black Box program is provided in part by Lawrence A. Cohen/Ringler Associates.
“Strange Bodies: Figurative Works from the Hirshhorn Collection”
Through Nov. 15, 2009
An important strength of the Hirshhorn is its holdings in figurative art. “Strange Bodies” brings together some of the most praised and popular examples from the collection. Works on paper can only be on view for several months at a time in order to maintain their best condition. Exhibition curator Kristen Hileman has taken this opportunity to introduce different pieces into the mix. Works that have not been on view for awhile, new acquisitions, such as Yinka Shonibare’s “The Age of Enlightenment—Antoine Lavoisier” (2008) and a few surprises have switched out some of the more delicate works. A film is now on view—“A Life of Errors” (2006), the poetic, yet unsettling work of young Canadian artists and husband-wife collaborators Nicholas and Sheila Pye.
The overall grouping of sculptures, paintings, drawings and film that comprises “Strange Bodies” spans the last hundred years, but the works reveal a common impulse toward depicting the human body, whether it is in a realistic, expressionistic or surrealistic fashion. The loaded, at times dark, content figurative art can carry is explored, as is the fundamental human connection that occurs when one encounters an image of a fellow individual. This exhibition is organized by associate curator Kristen Hileman. Pictured: Ron Mueck’s “Untitled (Big Man)” (2000), from the Hirshhorn’s collection.