CHICAGO, IL.- The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
, opened The Language of Less (Then and Now) to reintroduce now-classic Minimalist artworks to the public alongside work by five cutting-edge contemporary artists who are reconfiguring this visual language for today. On view from October 8, 2011, to April 8, 2012, The Language of Less (Then and Now) is inspired by the MCAs rich holdings of Minimalist and Postminimalist work from the 1960s and 70s by artists such as Donald Judd, Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, Jackie Ferrara, and Bruce Nauman, among others. Now a younger generation of American and international artists are working in the tradition of these Minimalists, but tailoring it to their own ends: Leonor Antunes (Berlin), Carol Bove (New York), Jason Dodge (Berlin), Gedi Sibony (New York), and Oscar Tuazon (Paris).
The exhibition is divided into two distinct parts, one devoted to a fresh reinstallation of this historical material, including recent acquisitions, and a second showcasing the five contemporary artists who are working within the stylistic language of the Minimalists, but with entirely new content and concerns. The curator of the exhibition, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator Michael Darling says The Language of Less foregrounds the MCAs belief that history is always under constant reappraisal, none more so than by working artists themselves. This exhibition presents now classic material to the public alongside work by artists who have not shown much in Chicago before, but who are starting to gain international attention.
In the 1960s, artists such as Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Richard Serra, and Sol LeWitt pioneered a stripped-down aesthetic that allowed audiences to focus on fundamental concepts that shape our world, such as solids and voids, repeating patterns, elemental structures, and principles of proportion. Their work provided a clearer vision of a world during a turbulent period of social and political upheaval, war, and rapidly evolving technology. In many ways, contemporary artists are again returning to this spare, formal language to slow us down, clarify thinking, and inspire reflection. However, where the 1960s generation largely sought to distance itself from the heroic, emotive gestures of the Abstract Expressionists by adopting a more impersonal and neutral tone through their use of industrial materials and repetitive patterns, current practitioners are imbuing their work with an increasing amount of poetic, personal, and even romantic content.
Across the work of Leonor Antunes, Carol Bove, Jason Dodge, Gedi Sibony, and Oscar Tuazon visitors can recognize a shared aesthetic of restraint, but find as well a warmer, more humane, even domestic quality to their efforts. Likewise, the established canon of historical Minimalism has been enriched in recent years by the rediscovery of pioneering talents that had slipped from view. The MCA has responded to these revisions with recent acquisitions by artists such as Tony Conrad, Charlotte Posenenske, and Franz Erhard Walther, all of whom debut in The Language of Less. The dual nature of the exhibition provides a historical context for understanding the new developments among the younger generation of artists, while also offering a chance to reflect on the groundbreaking rigor and elegance of the earlier artists who made Minimalism part of our collective parlance.
Leonor Antunes (b. Portugal, 1972) currently divides her time between Lisbon, Portugal, and Berlin, Germany. She works primarily in three dimensions, often taking inspiration from design, architecture, and Minimalist sculpture for her quiet, considered works. Her interests lie in urban systems and how, when coupled with intuition and a keen attention to detail, they affect our contemporary lives. Her work has been shown in single-person presentations at the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, in 2005, and the Museo Nacional Reina Sofia, Madrid, and Museu Serralves Museu Serralves, Porto, both in 2011.
Carol Bove (b. Switzerland, 1971) currently lives and works in New York. Her practice is largely research-driven; she makes contemporary drawings and installations that take as inspiration the social history, politics, and art of the 1960s and 70s. Her work was included in Illuminations at the Venice Biennale in 2011; in the Whitney Biennial, New York, in 2008; and in Unmonumental at the New Museum, New York, in 2007. She has had solo exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland, in 2004, and the Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany, in 2003.
Jason Dodge (b. Pennsylvania, 1969) has been living and working in Berlin, Germany, since 2003. His artistic approach and visual vocabulary are heavily influenced by the ideas of conceptual art and Minimalism. Despite their ostensible simplicity, his works engage vast networks of diverse associations and meanings that inevitably lead to new questions. Dodges work has been presented in solo exhibitions at the Orange County Museum of Art, CA, in 2004-05; in the project space of the Kunstverein Düsseldorf, Germany, in 2009; and at the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 2011, among others.
Gedi Sibony (b. New York City, 1973) continues to live and work in New York City. His sparse sculptures bring together fragments of the built environment and other detritus, using materials such as carpeting, plywood, cardboard, and plastic bags to create evocative spatial compositions. In his works he combines the highly site-conscious staging of art of the 1960s with Dadas questioning of the art object. Sibonys work has been the subject of a solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, in 2009; at Culturgest, Lisbon, in 2011; and was included in the 6th Berlin Biennial, Germany, in 2010; and the 2006 Whitney Biennial in New York.
Oscar Tuazon (b. Washington, 1975) currently lives and works in Paris, France. Tuazons sculptural works combine natural and industrially produced materials, and engage a formal language situated between architecture, Minimalist art, and an aesthetic peculiar to the utilitarian constructions of outsider communities. He was included in documenta XII, Kassel, Germany, in 2007; and his work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland, in 2010; the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Germany, in 2010; the Seattle Art Museum, WA, in 2008; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France, in 2007.