Zwirner & Wirth is pleased to present an exhibition of Outdoor Sculpture at David Zwirner's 519 West 19th Street gallery space. The works on view will include a selection of works spanning the years 1969 to 2006 by Carl Andre, Mark di Suvero, Robert Gober, Sol LeWitt, John McCracken, and Franz West.
The works on view will explore the development of sculptural concerns that were uniquely addressed by these artists, showing how traditional, monumental sculpture was transformed to include work that expanded the relationship of sculpture to the space of the viewer. By the 1960s, the notion of sculpture as a static, pedestal-based medium that idealized and monumentalized its subject matter was radically extended to include works that addressed their physical and temporal surroundings. These concerns would continue to be developed by a range of artists over the course of the pursuant decades and, moreover, would be examined within the broader context of the outdoors.
Minimalist artists such as Carl Andre, Donald Judd, and Robert Morris, among others, produced works that emphasized their forms and materials while also implicating the viewer. For Carl Andre, the properties inherent to a specific material–such as the forms and dimensions of bricks, wood blocks, or metal plates–were used to determine the composition of his sculptures. The exhibition will present an outdoor work by Andre titled Cascade, 1984, which is made up of a stepped progression of industrial bricks. This sculpture is structured by the logic of its individual units, while its form and position in space imply the presence of spectators. Sol LeWitt would develop similar ideas in works such as his seminal Variations of Incomplete Open Cubes, 1972, which embodied many of the central concerns of conceptual art. The exhibition will present four variations the Incomplete Open Cubes, a series in which the artist explored all possible configurations of how a cube missing one or more sides could be shown. By employing a fundamental form and subsequently exploring its permutational and serial possibilities, LeWitt exemplifies how a single idea can become "a machine that makes the art."¹
The exhibition will also present works by artists informed by minimalism, such as John McCracken, whose body of work represents a continued investigation of abstract form. Best known for his highly-polished, monochromatic planks, here the artist is represented by a new work from 2006 titled Beauty. This monolithic column is made of stainless steel, thus reflecting its surroundings to the extent that the sculpture itself all but disappears perceptually. Also on view will be a work by Robert Gober, titled Half Buried Sink, 1987. Gober takes the forms of a minimalist vocabulary and infuses them "with an emotional, biographical, and hallucinatory quality."² Though seemingly simple in their formal presentation, the artist’s works investigate such complex themes as domesticity, childhood, sexuality, and death. By re-creating mundane objects and stripping them of their ordinary functions, the artist challenges their familiarity and allows them to be infused with deeper psychological meaning. Here the artist presents a sink that is seemingly buried in the earth, evoking a tombstone.
The social function of sculpture is developed in works by other artists in the exhibition, including Mark di Suvero, whose largescale sculptures comprise balanced compositions of industrial materials such as wood and steel. With his work, Di Suvero aimed to escape the confines of the 'white cube' by creating large-scale outdoor sculptures that engage the viewer. Several of his works include swinging elements that encourage the spectator's presence. A hanging platform or bed forms part of the sculpture titled Vote, 1983-85: here, the artist calls for physical and civic participation. The Austrian artist Franz West is also known for sculptural work that encourages the active engagement of the viewer. West’s notion of a participatory model of sculpture was first articulated in the 1970s with his Paβstücke (Adaptive Sculptures) and consequently developed with furniture pieces that the artist made to encourage dialogue and contemplation within the museum or gallery setting. West further elaborates upon this idea with his recent painted aluminum outdoor works, such as Gartenmöbel (Garden Furniture), 2003, a horizontal spiral form which playfully invites physical interaction on the part of the spectator.
¹ Sol LeWitt, "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art," originally published in Artforum (New York) 5, no. 10 (June 1967).
² Robert Gober, cited in Karel Schampers, "Robert Gober," in Robert Gober (Rotterdam: Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, 1990), p.31.