Hirshhorn Plaza

Directions: John Gerrard
Stills from John Gerrard, Sentry (Kit Carson, Colorado), 2009

"Directions: John Gerrard"

November 5, 2009, to May 31, 2010
John Gerrard’s (Irish, b. Dublin, 1974) works hover between fact and fiction. They present actual scenes from desolate corners of the American landscape and unfold in real time so that patient viewers can experience the progression of the day from morning to night in each setting; however, what looks like a live shot is, in fact, a manipulated, fabricated image. Gerrard photographs every site from 360 degrees and then animates the stills into seamless cinematic panning shots. Instead of the overt conflicts so prominent in video games that use this same technology, the artist relates realistic elements—a pumping oil derrick, a pig processing plant, and a vintage storm photo superimposed on a real farmscape—with elegant subtlety. Yet while these works recall the stark illumination and precision of 20th-century realist paintings by Charles Sheeler, Charles Demuth, and Edward Hopper, their heightened effects also underscore the bleak ramifications of depleting natural resources. Gerrard’s mesmerizing replicas reimagine landscape art and offer meditations on the impact of our habits of consumption.

Selected Press

Washington Post, November 5, 2009
Art review: Blake Gopnik on John Gerrard exhibit at Hirshhorn

About the Directions Series
Since its opening in 1974, the Hirshhorn has been committed to providing a platform for the artists of today. Directions, established in 1979 as a group installation and transformed in 1987 to highlight the work of a single artist or paired artists, has been a longstanding hallmark of the Museum’s exhibition program and partnership with living artists. Bringing a diverse range of emerging and established artists from around the world to Washington, the series provides a prominent space on the National Mall for new work and new ideas.