NEW YORK, NY.-Almost thirty-five years after Daniel Buren's monumental work Peinture-Sculpture was removed the day before the opening of the Guggenheim Museum's Sixth Guggenheim International Exhibition in 1971 (following the protests of several fellow exhibiting artists), Buren has resumed his dialogue with the museum's legendary Frank Lloyd Wright-designed rotunda. The exhibition The Eye of the Storm: Works in situ by Daniel Buren opens at the Guggenheim on March 25 and features a major new site-specific installation, Around the Corner, (200005), which dynamically engages the building's open, central space. The exhibition also features an installation of paintings in the High Gallery, and a new work the artist has created for the windows in the third- and fourth-floor Thannhauser galleries. The exhibition remains on view through June 8, 2005.
This exhibition is made possible by Chivas Regal 18, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, and L'Association Française d'Action Artistique.
Exhibition Installation - Throughout his career, Buren has been concerned with the context within which art is displayed and has used his work to draw attention to the often-unnoticed formal, political, economic, and ideological characteristics of a specific site. Buren's work for the Guggenheim exposes the powerful presence of the building's architecture and the various conditions which inform the art within it. The exhibition' installation features sculpture, painting, light, and color, and is divided into three sections: the rotunda intervention, Around the Corner; an installation of paintings in the High Gallery; and Color, Rhythm, Transparency, work in situ: The Double Frieze, Thannhauser 3 and Color, Rhythm, Transparency, work in situ: The Single Frieze, Thannhauser 4, chromatic treatments of the windows in two of the Thannhauser galleries.
The Rotunda: Around the Corner - The centerpiece of the exhibition, Around the Corner, rises from the floor of the rotunda to the top of the sixth ramp, bisecting the great open space. Like the installation of Peinture-Sculpture (Painting-Sculpture) in 1971, the current work also blocks the vista across the ramps, yet with its mirrored surface, cleverly doubles it at the same time. Reminiscent of a skyscraper under construction, the structure represents one of four corners of an imagined cube, large enough for the entire museum to be inscribed within it. Pushed into the middle of the Rotunda, the intersection of the two visible walls sits directly beneath the center of the museum's oculus skylight. This unexpected 90-degree angle parallels to both 89th Street and Fifth Avenue, reintegrating the grid of the city into Wright's defiant spiral.
The title of the exhibition, The Eye of the Storm, refers in part to the storm of criticism Wright's unusual building produced when it was built, and in part to the oculus or eye beneath which it sits. Composed of an interior scaffolding structure and a mirrored skin, Around the Corner situates itself not only within the museum environment, but it also references the surrounding city and its typical architectural elements. The museum's spiral is made even more emphatic by the artist's signature stripes, which are adhered to the circling parapet walls. The spiral literally envelops the structure and wraps around the corner of the cube. Reflecting kaleidoscopic views of the building, the work makes visible what is often out of sight or disregarded, and magnifies the already destabilizing architecture of the museum. The brightly colored pattern on the parapet adds to the visual spectacle.
The High Gallery: Murs de Peintures - In the High Gallery, an installation of Buren's paintings also draws attention to the museum's role in the presentation and reception of art. Buren will install Murs de Peintures, a collection of 20 of his striped canvases dating from 1966 to 1977. Formerly in a private collection, the works were brought together as a single installation for an exhibition at the Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1995. Since that time, the works have become part of that museum's permanent collection and remain permanently on view. The temporary closing of the museum for renovations has afforded the Guggenheim the unique opportunity to share these emblematic works with a New York audience. In Paris, the canvases were placed on two walls facing each other on either side of a Matisse mural. Hung salon-style from floor to ceiling, the canvases are denied the isolation afforded most contemporary works on the supposedly neutral space of the museum's white walls. Buren's placement of the worksboth in Paris and in New Yorkquestions codified curatorial practices and the powers that dictate them. At the same time, the placement of the paintings emphasizes their connections to other works on view and to the museum itself.
The Thannhauser Galleries: Color, Rhythm, Transparency, works in situ - The works Buren created for the windows in the third- and fourth-floor Thannhauser galleries, entitled Color, Rhythm, Transparency, work in situ: The Double Frieze, Thannhauser 3 and Color, Rhythm, Transparency, work in situ: The Single Frieze, Thannhauser 4, continue to stress the integration of work and site in his oeuvre. Colored films affixed to the glass filter the light coming into the building and allow visitors to see conditions of display that may often go unnoticed. Instead of re-creating an illusion of light on canvas, Buren harnesses the light in the actual space. The patterns of the colors are adhered directly to the body of the museum, which becomes itself a support for and a part of the art. Reflections on the floor and ceiling further integrate the room into the work. Likewise, the city and park views seen through the windows become incorporated into the whole of the exhibition experience.
Background - Born in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, in 1938, Daniel Buren is widely considered one of the most important artists of the postwar generation. Through his aesthetic practice as well as his theoretical writings, he has radically questioned the nature of art and the systems that support and manipulate it. At the same time, he manages to successfully work within the institutions that are an integral part of this cultural machine. Buren began painting in the early 1960s in a mostly abstract idiom, and after a short but prolific period of experimentation with this medium the artist discovered the striped material which would become his signature. By 1965 the artist had begun making paintings with a linen pre-printed with alternating bands of white and color that he found at the Marché Saint-Pierre, a textiles market in Montmartre, Paris. Buren abandoned traditional painting and adopted the 8.7-cm-wide vertical stripes (which always alternate between white and color) as a visual tool that prompts viewers to read the work's surroundings. Buren has inserted his stripescreated with fabric, paper, tape, and paintin and on a variety of interior and exterior sites, including storefronts, billboards, stairways, trains, parks, plazas, markets, theaters, cafes, bridges, galleries, and museums all over the world. Situated in both art and everyday environments, Buren's works explore how different contexts or frameworks invest the art with meaning and raise different questions. Thus, for almost four decades Buren has chosen to work in situ, that is, within and in response to a given location (and its particular conditions), which he sees as inextricable from the artwork itself.
While the stripes have remained a recognizable element throughout his oeuvre, over the past two decades Buren's work has become more sculptural and architectural in scale and form. Manipulating various architectural elements, Buren creates new places within existing sites.