Frederick Kiesler is well known as an artist/architect/designer who worked between disciplines and professional categories. His recent retrospective at The Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) in Vienna highlighted his work as an architect, theater designer, and creator of ground-breaking exhibition spaces like Peggy Guggenheim’s 1942 Art of This Century gallery. A current show at the Jason McCoy Gallery features Kiesler’s little known ‘painted’ images done in ink, oil, and tempera mounted on boards. The exhibit Galaxies of the 1950s highlights Kiesler’s strategy that these works were not created as individual works, but in a series where “the space between the different parts was just as important as the paintings themselves,” as the gallery said in a press release. In fact, he diagrammed and planned the surrounding space of the series, often measuring down to fractions of an inch.
Ever the early 20th-century Viennese architect/artist, this series reflected the idea that the “inner necessity” of the work as a whole was the same as “breathing is to our body reality.” Each work, Kiesler wrote, “represents a definite unit in itself just as in one family each member is of distinct individuality.” Yet for Kiesler, art, like the architect, could no longer “be placed in isolation: that art must strive again to become part of daily experience.” He reminds us, in these beautiful works, that painters, sculptors, and architects must still conceive their work as part of the world.
Jason McCoy Gallery
41 East 57th Street
Galaxies of the 1950s is on view until April 29, 2017.