Early Works Press Release

Dates

May 3—July 25, 2003

Zwirner & Wirth will present a group of major sculptures and related drawings dating from 1963 to 1971, by four key figures of the Minimalist art movement.

In the 1960s, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt and Richard Serra all set out, with their own unique use of materials and conceptual strategies, to strip the art object of its inheritance of illusionism and representation. In reaction to the Abstract Expressionist movement, the Minimalist artists produced objects rooted in Empiricism. They set out to challenge the preceding generation's nature-derived imagery by creating works that rejected their preoccupation with mythical narratives, allegory and spiritual theories in favor of perceptual and physical experience.

At the center of this exhibition is Donald Judd's first galvanized iron and Plexiglas Stack from 1969. Having first used galvanized iron in the 7-part stack of 1965, Judd nostalgically returns to this material in Untitled, 1969, where six-inch galvanized iron boxes with Plexiglas are mounted at six-inch intervals vertically on the wall. Each individual unit here contains green Plexiglas tops and bottoms which allows the viewer to look up through or down into the consecutive boxes, a configuration that also allows light to filter through each box. It is a union of proletarian materials and compositional elegance, which Judd sought to fuse in an object that was to be experienced in space. The sculpture as object is most successful in the multiplicity of views it allows the viewer as they move around the units. In this work, as in Untitled, 1968, a brass and anodized aluminum progression, Judd creates visual tension between the rigorousness of the object's physical geometry and the opulent effects of the materials, where opacity and translucency, reflections and transparency coexist.

Untitled (to the innovator of Wheeling Peachblow), 1966-68, is the first square corner fluorescent light sculpture by Dan Flavin and one of the artist's favorite uses of this structure. The title's dedication refers to a late 19th century American glass called "Wheeling Peachblow". 'Peachblow' was given its name because of a resemblance in coloring to Chinese porcelain of the same name. A glass manufacturer in Wheeling copied the vase in the new 'Peachblow' glass.” European and American glass was of particular interest to the artist. 

Richard Serra's Three Cuts, 1971, is a seminal work where Serra improves on the structural balance of the lead prop pieces of the late 1960s. With this sculpture, Serra succeeded for the first time in constructing a floor prop sculpture of hot-rolled steel, which was solidly supported and spatially complex. Three Cuts is also notable as a work in which the process of the 'cuts' is completely integral to the success of the prop composition. Here the artist’s gesture is synonymous with the art object.

Finally, the exhibition also includes two early floor sculptures by Sol Lewitt: Serial Project #1 Set A (Open inside Open outside),1966, and Untitled ABCD 5, 1968. Embodying the purist geometries of the International Architecture Movement, each work consists of multiple pieces laid upon a grid constituting a succinct set of open and closed formal variations. These works each represent a three-dimensional realization of Lewitt's rejection of the conventional boundaries between painting, sculpture, drawing and architecture.