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The Hirshhorn Presents New “Gyroscope” Installations: “Sculptors and their Drawings” and “From Ordinary to Extraordinary”

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Media only: Gabriel M. Einsohn (202) 633-2822, einsohng@si.edu
Public only: www.hirshhorn.si.edu (202) 633-1000
Media Briefing: Nov. 3, 9-11 a.m.; remarks at 9:30 a.m. RSVP to Gabriel Einsohn. 

This fall the Hirshhorn devotes the entirety of its galleries to new installations of “Gyroscope,” a program of dynamic, frequently changing presentations of the Hirshhorn’s pre-eminent collection. Thematic groupings and new acquisitions presented in this cycle of “Gyroscope” offer visitors unexpected ways of looking at the museum’s diverse holdings and encourage in-depth explorations of such notable artists as Willem de Kooning, Clyfford Still and Francis Bacon. Specially highlighted “Gyroscope” themes “Sculptors and their Drawings” and “From Ordinary to Extraordinary” will be on view from Nov. 3 through January 2006 on the museum’s second floor.

This innovative, nonchronological approach to exhibiting the museum’s collection encourages fresh perceptions of favorite “masterpieces” and brings the cutting-edge work of emerging and established contemporary artists to the National Mall. Works that have not been seen for a decade or more will be on view, as well as Balthus’ “The Children” (1937), which complements the Hirshhorn’s examples of the artist’s work and is a special loan from the Musée Picasso in France. 

“Sculptors and their Drawings” provides a glimpse into the creative process of artists past and present-including Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Henri Matisse, Robert Smithson, Julio González and Anish Kapoor-and demonstrates the many ways in which sculptors use drawings: as studies for their work, as a means of liberation from the physicality of sculpture and as a way of developing and exploring their visual vocabularies. 

“From Ordinary to Extraordinary” focuses attention on one of the hallmarks of modern and contemporary art-the use of nontraditional materials, including objects from daily life. 

Whether as playful responses to the question, “what is art?” or serious social commentaries, artists from the early 20th century through today have created works that surprise, delight and disturb with their unique combinations of found objects. Pieces by Josef Albers, Joseph Cornell, Leonardo Drew, Tony Cragg and Michelangelo Pistoletto will be on view alongside Ann Hamilton’s room-sized “Palimpsest” (1989), a new addition to the collection that includes such materials as beeswax tablets, newsprint, map tacks, a wood shelf, an electric fan, cabbages and live snails. 

The Hirshhorn also introduces its new Black Box for film and video works on the lower level. Opening in November, the black box will debut with the work of Japanese artist Hiraki Sawa, who began his career when he developed a series of black-and-white digital video works, set in his apartment. The Hirshhorn offers five single-screen shorts: Dwelling, 2002-04; Elsewhere, 2003, Migration, 2003; Trail, 2005; and Eight Minutes, 2005. Sawa’s visual poetry includes tea pots that sprout legs and toy planes that magically fly from room to room. Screenings are ongoing during regular museum hours. Check www.hirshhorn.si.edu for more information. Another recent acquisition on view on the lower level is Miguel Angel Rios’ “A Morir” (’til Death) (2003), a triple-screen video projection that contemplates life and death through the prism of a popular game played in Mexico.

Other programs currently at the Hirshhorn include “Directions-Janet Cardiff,” a multisensory audio walk that starts at the museum and takes the participant through parts of the National Mall, available through the end of October 2005 and “Directions-Jim Hodges,” a monumental billboard displayed on the museum’s façade proclaiming “don’t be afraid” in various languages, on view through the winter. On Nov. 16 the museum will be open late for “Meet the Artist: Jim Hodges,” followed by Hirshhorn After Hours. The evening begins with a lecture by Hodges at 7 p.m. and continues with a public celebration of the new “Gyroscope” installations through 10 p.m. There will be a cash bar and visitors are invited to explore the entire museum, including a new lobby contemplation space that provides print and video resource materials that encourage visitors to respond to or reflect on Jim Hodges’ work. This event is free and open to the public, however seating for the Hodges lecture is limited and available on a first-come basis. 

“Gyroscope” and Hirshhorn After Hours are made possible with the support of the Hirshhorn’s board of trustees and donors to the Annual Circle. “Directions-Jim Hodges” is made possible in part by Ray Graham III, Trellis Fund, Glenn Fuhrman, and Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, with additional support from anonymous donors and friends. Support for Meet the Artist programs is provided through the generosity of the Steven and Heather Mnuchin Foundation. Contemplation space furnishings are courtesy of Apartment Zero. 

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian’s museum of international modern and contemporary art, encompasses some 11,500 paintings, sculptures, mixed media installations and works on paper. The Hirshhorn maintains an active exhibition program and offers an array of free public programs that explore the art of our time. The museum, located at Independence Avenue and Seventh Street S.W., is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25) and admission is free. 

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