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Venue: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York City
Dates: March 5–May 19, 2004
Thursday, March 4, 10 am–1 pm
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will present Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated): Art from 1951 to the Present, the third in a series of exhibitions highlighting the museum’s world-renowned collection. In summer 2003, the Guggenheim presented From Picasso to Pollock: Classics of Modern Art, an exhibition celebrating the history of the avant-garde from early Modernism through Abstract Expressionism; and with Moving Pictures in 2002, the Guggenheim showcased its important concentration of contemporary photography and video. Drawing on the Guggenheim’s exceptional holdings of Minimalist painting and sculpture, Singular Forms examines the impulse toward reduction, restraint, and lucidity in postwar art.
The exhibition, which will fill the museum’s entire Frank Lloyd Wright Rotunda and adjacent Tower galleries, begins with Robert Rauschenberg’s historic White Painting (1951), a stark, monochromatic canvas that invites the audience’s participation by reflecting the shadows it casts in a room. This seminal work establishes twin trajectories in the development of contemporary art: the elimination of all extraneous details to achieve an art of pure, essential form; and the attention to issues of perception, viewing context, and bodily engagement.
After a prologue including other examples of radical, monochrome paintings by Ellsworth Kelly, Ad Reinhardt, and Frank Stella, the exhibition explores how these parallel artistic strategies were manifest in Minimalist and Conceptual art of the 1960s and 1970s through the work of Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman, and Lawrence Weiner, among others.
Minimalism’s impact on subsequent generations of contemporary artists will be a major component of Singular Forms. The movement’s immediate successor, Postminimalism, utilized a deliberate paucity of formal means to explore a range of concerns including process, the dematerialization of the object, the performative nature of art, and the structural properties of light. Artists such as Robert Irwin, Richard Long, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, James Turrell, and Douglas Wheeler are included in this section. During the last two decades, many artists schooled in the deconstructivist tendencies of Postmodernism—such as Robert Gober, Roni Horn, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres—resuscitated Minimalism as a style, infusing its unitary, nonreferential forms with content to bring to the fore trenchant cultural issues. The exhibition concludes with recent work that shares much of the look of classic Minimalist art, but uses it to communicate deeply personal, political, or poetic messages.
The exhibition is organized by Nancy Spector, Curator of Contemporary Art, and Lisa Dennison, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The installation is designed by Michael Gabellini of Gabellini Associates.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue that examines how the deployment of elemental forms has extended well beyond the visual arts. Filmmakers, choreographers, musicians, designers, and architects (often in tandem or in collaboration with artists) have sought ways to redefine their mediums through the intensive reduction of their formal means. Essays devoted to each of these disciplines will demonstrate how Minimalist tendencies pervade popular culture today. The catalogue is designed by 2 x 4, New York.
General Information: 212-423-3500
Hours: Saturday–Wednesday 10 am–5:45 pm; Friday 10 am–8 pm; closed Thursday
Admission: $15 adults; $10 students/seniors; children under 12 free; members free
December 10, 2003
Betsy Ennis / Jennifer Russo
Guggenheim Public Affairs