View the Chamberlain Exhibition Site and Video

For the exhibition John Chamberlain: Choices, on view through May 13, 2012, the Guggenheim has produced a special exhibition site and video exploring Chamberlain’s rise to prominence with his energetic, vibrant sculptures made from disused car parts, which achieved a three-dimensional Abstract Expressionism that transformed contemporary art.

Featuring a chronological selection of works from the exhibition interspersed with images of the artist at work, the site offers multiple views of many sculptures, such as Shortstop (1958), Miss Lucy Pink (1962), and Rooster Starfoot (1976). Artworks can also be filtered and viewed by themes such as sculpture as collage, color and finish, and materials. Lexicon entries from the exhibition catalogue provide insight behind Chamberlain’s unique and often humorous artwork titles, some connections which the artist acknowledged, while others are only circumstantially related or simply speculation.

Narrated by curator Susan Davidson, the exhibition video chronicles Chamberlain’s career from his arrival in New York in 1956 and first metal works to his experimentation with galvanized steel and Plexiglass to his works in foam. The video features archival photos as well as footage of Chamberlain at work and at the opening of his retrospective at the Menil Foundation in Houston in 1987. Davidson emphasizes that Chamberlain’s use of scale and collage set him apart from other artists, and offers the following explanation for the title of the show: “Choice is very much part of Chamberlain’s working process—he chose the materials that he worked with, and he chose how they fit together. Fit and choice have been guiding principles in Chamberlain’s working method throughout his career and in assembling the various parts that make up the sculptures on the museum’s ramps . . . he was in fact a type of collagist. It is this aspect that astounded critics and captured the imagination of fellow artists.”

A second video explores Chamberlain’s early life and involvement with the Abstract Expressionist movement in New York in the 1960s. Lawrence Weiner speaks about his relationship with the late artist and the artistic community that formed at Cedar Tavern, which connected Chamberlain to Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock, among others, who informed his work.


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