Given that sculpture already shares a fuzzy boundary with other spatial practices, the exhibition unsurprisingly features a number of artists working explicitly with architecture and the built environment. Perhaps the most well-known artist who deals with architecture and one of the biggest living names in the exhibition is British artist and Turner Prize winner Rachel Whiteread, famous (or infamous, depending who you ask) for her three-story sculpture, House (1993).
Whiteread has two pieces on display in Sculpture. In Bushwick, there is the ghostly cast plaster and polystyrene work Untitled (Double) (1998). The long, monumental prism is simultaneously unitary—a single long form—and an identical pair, defined by deep symmetrical grooves. A visual paradox, it uncannily uncouples precisely through its coupling. Untitled (Double) continues Whiteread’s use of casting and molds to trouble the binaries of absence and presence and constructed and negative space, exploring the entanglement of memory and built worlds.
In Chelsea, Whiteread’s Untitled (Amber Floor) (1993) is on display. The rubber slab is nearly eight feet long, invading the viewer’s space while its small fold crawls up the wall, calling attention to the gallery’s form as a whole. It forces one to notice the unnoticed—the very floor they are standing upon.
Complementing Whiteread’s work in Bushwick is a sculpture by Los Angeles-based Oscar Tuazon, who the gallery will be presenting in a solo show at its Chelsea location beginning April 28th. Though primarily self-identifying as a sculptor, Tuazon occupies a space between artist, architect, and activist. He creates sculptural work, installations, and public sites that are constantly in flux, their maintenance and use thus becoming part of their artistic production. Tuazon’s contribution, Condenser (Venta Contracta) (2015), is a tilted pyramid of concrete and fiberglass tubes that reconfigure the familiar, if often hidden, forms of urban infrastructure.
Like Whiteread, German artist Reinhard Mucha explores the intersection of memory and the built world, often simultaneously recalling personal and political meanings.The diptych Untitled (“Pearl Paint” New York West Side Highway 1977) (1998) (displayed in Chelsea) and the two-part “ensemble” of works Before the Wall Came Down (2008) and Lennep (2009) (on view in Bushwick) are bricolages of found materials, enamel, oil paint, readymade objects such as stools and rulers, and images which memorialize the artist’s own collaborative urban interventions.
The work in Sculpture takes many scales and styles. Some are decidedly smaller, such as the mononymous artist Zarina’s wall-mounted sculpture Memory of Bangkok (1980–2011) which exhibits an architectural interest rendered with a printmaker’s sensibility. Glenn Ligon takes language itself as his material, while some artists like Cady Noland and Tunga rely on everyday objects—construction barriers, oversized lamps, vases, beer cans—in their work. The show has nearly too many artists to mention, as Simone Leigh, Janine Antoni, Tom Friedman, Roger Hiorns, Steve Wolfe, Phillip King, Jeremy Moon, Martin Kippenberger, Pipilotti Rist, and Christopher Wool are all also featured in the two-gallery, two-burrough exhibition.
Not only expansive in its roster, Sculpture displays work produced over a wide swath of time (Phillip King’s Ripple was originally produced in 1963 and Jeremy Moon’s Untitled is from 1964 while Simone Leigh’s Opuwo is from this year). Despite (or, perhaps, precisely because of) the range in dates of the objects’ creations, Sculpture makes no attempt at organizing a clear trajectory or historical narrative. However, many of the artists are represented by Luhring Augustine or have shown with the gallery before, suggesting that the exhibition is a self-portrait of the gallery of sorts. In this way, we perhaps can see Sculpture as a look at the gallery’s history rather than at the history of a form. Even still, with its wide-reaching constellation of work, Sculpture highlights the plurality of materials, means, and motivations behind sculptural practice of the past six decades.