Al Taylor features two individual series, Pass the Peas (1991-92) and Can Studys [sic] from 1993, as well as a related group of works entitled Cans and Hoops. Toba Khedoori presents an exhibition of new paintings and drawings. 'Overflow' by James Welling is comprised of three distinct but related bodies of work, all of which explore photography's hybrid relationship to painting.
Pass the Peas and Can Studys
David Zwirner is pleased to announce the gallery’s third solo exhibition of drawings and three-dimensional works by Al Taylor. On view at the gallery’s 519 West 19th Street space, the exhibition will present a comprehensive examination of two individual series by the artist: Pass the Peas (1991-92) and Can Studys [sic] from 1993, as well as a related group of works entitled Cans and Hoops (1993) which bridge the evolution between the two series.
Al Taylor was an artist whose intimate observations of the world were explored using any media at hand to investigate and expand the interrelationships of vision and fluid space. He deftly abstracted simple objects and imagery into a unique body of work that is both complex and starkly honest. In the history of contemporary art, Taylor is a singular figure not easily assimilated into any exclusive movement or school, although recent scholarship often cites Marcel Duchamp as a significant touchstone for his work. Taylor’s art was inspired by an amalgam of influences ranging from mathematical theories and art historical precedents to his own studies of everyday minutiae, alongside personal references from his life. The artist drew upon these diverse influences to create systematic rules that he set up to be broken, providing unexpected paths to research and develop the possibilities of visual experience.
While Taylor began his studio practice as a painter, in 1985 he started making three- dimensional constructions to open up the boundaries of the pictorial plane, eventually devising a uniquely innovative approach to process and materials that embodied a dimensional flux between drawings and objects. Taylor saw no distinction between his three-dimensional assemblages and his works on paper and resolutely resisted using the term “sculpture” for his constructions, referring to them instead as “drawings in space.” During an interview in 1992, when he was asked by curator Ulrich Loock about the relationship between drawing and three-dimensionality in his work, the artist responded, “It’s one and the same. Working on paper or on pieces really is the same thing; it’s all one activity that I am not interested in separating.”1
Later, in sketchbook notes from 1998, the artist wrote, “Goal: To make an object that maintains the directness and ease of a pencil line.”2
The fluidity of Taylor’s oeuvre was mirrored in his creative process as he moved back and forth between two and three dimensions. In his search to find unexpected connections between reality and perception, the artist pursued an animated flow of ideas instead of static conclusions. As a consequence, some drawings precede the objects, while others follow. His three-dimensional works, delicately fashioned out of unconventional and often humble materials, provided him with opportunities to “see more” by investigating multiple viewpoints. These objects facilitated further explorations on paper using the visual perspectives that were opened up in real space, and the resultant drawings, in turn, could inspire the spatial development of the three-dimensional constructions. In notes from 1990, Taylor wrote, “This work isn’t at all about sculptural concerns; it comes from a flatter set of traditions. What I am really after is finding a way to make a group of drawings that you can look around. Like a pool player, I want to have all the angles covered.”3
Although distinctly individual, both of the series presented in this exhibition examine Taylor’s ongoing explorations of the circle. Instigated by curiosity, the artist studies the inside and outside of circular forms and investigates the multi-dimensional possibilities that could be revealed by conceptually and physically moving “around” them, exposing the mutable perception of their intrinsic shape. Taylor playfully explores these permutations in the body of work he collectively titled Pass the Peas from 1991-92. Using tubular materials, such as hula hoops, rubber garden hose, and plastic-coated cable, he created three-dimensional spirals and coils, interlocking loops, and dissected circles that were mounted on the wall, left freestanding, or hung by wires from the ceiling to activate changing perspectives. Recycled plastic bottle cap rings, which the artist affixed at random intervals, were meticulously oriented to “balance” atop the tubing and appear to follow the trajectories of the spiraled forms—almost as if they are acrobatic “peas” propelled by gravity, traveling at different velocities along a track. In the drawings from this series, the artist conveys the movement through time and space of spheres rolling on rounded “edges” of ascending and descending loops and coils or flowing down the inclined course of imaginary puddles. Taylor realistically renders conceptual ideas about the dimensionality of linear curves, the role of gravity and chance on motion, and the passage of time in these elegant and humorously idiosyncratic works on paper.
The artist’s investigations into the infinite possibilities of a circle were further pursued during 1993 in his Can Studys series, when he expanded his “research” by exploring the play of light that would theoretically be reflected off of the exterior—or projected out of the interior of cylinders. In a group of wall-mounted constructions that he created out of grocery store tin cans (fastidiously stripped of labels), wood, hot-rolled steel bands, and asymmetrical lengths of wire, Taylor characteristically “draws” in real space—opening up the visual perception that these objects vacillate between three and two dimensions. Consistent with the dual nature of the artist’s practice, Taylor’s facility as a draftsman is evidenced in an array of works on paper that run the gamut from still lifes to pure abstraction. With a focus on minute detail, he rendered the cylindrical contours of tin cans, using dense layers of nuanced shading in graphite and washes, or sometimes simple pencil lines, to reveal the dimensionality of their structure, imply surface reflectivity and shadows, and define the theoretical shapes of emanated light. There is an element of humor in some of the works, where the artist collages newsprint reproductions of labeled food cans that appear to be suspended from scrupulously drawn wires. In other drawings, he collages generic bar code strips to conceptually represent the demarcations of light and shadow at play on the embossed ridges that wrap around the cans. The two- and three-dimensional works that comprise this series were developed from a matrix of ideas generated by the artist’s investigations into the surface and depth of real and imagined space. In these agile studies of tin cans, Taylor explores the formal concerns of composition, mathematical proportionality, linear movement between multiple, angled perspectives, and the spatial possibilities of light.
Al Taylor was born in 1948 in Springfield, Missouri and studied at the Kansas City Art Institute. He moved to New York in 1970, where he would continue to live and work until his death in 1999. His first solo exhibition took place in 1986 at the Alfred Kren Gallery in New York. His work would go on to be shown in numerous exhibitions in America and Europe, including solo exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Bern (1992) and the Kunstmuseum Luzern (1999), both in Switzerland. A retrospective of Taylor’s drawings was organized posthumously by the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich in 2006. His work is found in a number of prominent public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Glenstone, Potomac, Maryland; and the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. A retrospective of the artist’s prints opened at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich in September 2010, and travelled to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark in Spring 2011. The Santa Monica Museum of Art, California, presented a focused overview of two bodies of work by the artist, Wire Instruments and Pet Stain Removal Devices, in 2011.
On the occasion of the exhibition, the gallery will publish a catalogue in collaboration with Steidl, Göttingen, which will feature new scholarship on the artist by Klaus Kertess.
1 Al Taylor, in Ulrich Loock and Al Taylor, “A Conversation,” in Al Taylor. Exh. cat. (Bern, Switzerland: Kunsthalle Bern, 1992), p. 34.
2 Al Taylor, in Michael Semff, ed., Al Taylor: Drawings/Zeichnungen. Exh. cat. (Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2006), p. 41.
3 Al Taylor, unpublished artist’s statement, July 1990.
David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by Los Angeles-based artist Toba Khedoori, on view at the gallery’s 525 West 19th Street space. Khedoori joined David Zwirner in 1994 as one of its first artists, and this marks her sixth solo show with the gallery.
Khedoori is known for her precisely rendered, intricate works depicting familiar objects divorced from any background. For the past two decades she has created her own atlas of solitary spaces, windows, doors, train compartments, and horizon lines always devoid of a human presence. Usually drawn, and then painted, onto waxed paper of a monumental size, the otherwise empty compositions envelop the viewer’s entire field of vision, but proportion appears autonomous from a real-life referent. The works appear at once fragile and monumental, flat and illusory.
The present exhibition includes a series of oils on canvas, a new development within the artist’s practice that further breaks down the distinction between painting and drawing. Executed on a smaller scale, and at times filling out the entire surface, these works open up for a more intimate dialogue with their surroundings, onto which their own space seems to become projected. The support of the canvas lends new weight to the subject matter, while underscoring a dichotomy between the physicality of the former and the ethereal appearance of the latter.
The works in the exhibition depict ropes in various configurations along with subjects from the natural world— mountain ranges, tree branches, and rivers. A canvas with an abstract mosaic of small squares in varying shades of black and blue contrasts with the more figurative compositions, while at the same time emphasizing their own inherent abstraction. A river is distilled to an interwoven mesh of wavy lines and myriad branches overlap or are overlapped to create a sophisticated lattice in which it is difficult to maintain a distinct focus. In two paintings presenting aerial views of a mountain range, the tension between form and narrative, or abstraction and realism, extends into a question of difference and repetition: at a closer look, it emerges that they show the same view with the shadows inverted. A drawing depicting a large explosion evokes this tension both literally and conceptually, as the smoke captured by the soft pencil strokes appears at once decipherable and disappearing from view. The viewer’s attention, in turn, is focused onto the exercise of looking.
Despite their technical and sometimes photo-realistic precision, Khedoori’s works seem to present a virtual vocabulary, as if they were illustrations of thoughts. In a recent essay on her work, artist and writer Julien Bismuth notes that each of Khedoori’s fragmentary subjects seems “disconnected from that which would make it complete. Imagine a language from which only a word had survived. What would this word sound like? Like a puzzle piece removed from its set and held up to the light, Toba Khedoori’s works engage with a specific form of abstraction: abstraction not as ‘freedom from representational qualities’ but as ‘the process of removing something.’ In doing so, she remains bound to representational drawing, yet draws attention to its conventions by subtle yet deliberate acts of omission, remission, and subversion.”1
Born in 1964 in Sydney, Australia, Toba Khedoori received her M.F.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1994.
Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide, including the St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri (2003); Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2002); Whitechapel Gallery, London; Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (both 2001); and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (1997). Her first museum solo exhibition was organized in 1997 by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, which traveled to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
In 2002, Khedoori was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Grant. She has participated in a number of international group exhibitions, including the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); Liverpool Biennial (2006); 26th São Paulo Biennial (2004); 1995 Whitney Biennial; among numerous others.
Major museum collections which hold works by the artist include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Khedoori lives and works in Los Angeles.
1 Julien Bismuth’s essay “Toba Khedoori” (2012) will appear in a forthcoming edition of Annual Magazine.
David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by James Welling, on view at the gallery’s 533 West 19th Street space. This will be the photographer’s fifth solo show at the gallery.
Overflow is comprised of three distinct but related bodies of work, all of which explore photography’s hybrid relationship to painting. In Wyeth, Welling traveled to Maine and Pennsylvania in pursuit of the subjects and places painted by American artist Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009). While the project started in 2010, its origins date back to Welling’s early years as an artist, when Wyeth was a major source of inspiration.
Welling was interested equally in the biographical significance of Wyeth’s subject matter and in tracing the origins of how he came to photography. As he noted in a recent interview with Patricia Hickson, Emily Hall Tremaine Curator of Contemporary Art at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, the Wyeth project permitted him to uncover pictorial devices he had unconsciously adopted from the painter. Wyeth’s work inspired him “to look very closely at things, to be intense, to be very focused.” Wyeth, in turn, goes beyond the straightforward question of influence to engage with the complex relationship between the photographic image and its referent, which here constitutes both Wyeth’s paintings and the literal subjects and locations in front of Welling’s camera.
While several of the photographs are based directly on Wyeth’s compositions, determining what was, and what was not, a Wyeth subject became a multi-layered project. Other photographs depart from a visual resemblance to the painter’s work and depict his studio, the ruins of a church that was still in use when Wyeth painted it, steel hooks protruding from the ceiling of a farmhouse where he often worked, an aging apple orchard, and in Welling’s own words, a “clump of grass that reminded me of Wyeth’s dry brush drawing Grasses (1941).” Broader issues of temporality, aging, and creative renewal are evoked, while the photographs simultaneously trace Wyeth’s oeuvre and open up to a unique understanding of Welling’s own practice.
Welling’s interest in the subtle relationships formed within his works is further explored in Fluid Dynamics, a group of photograms created by exposing wet photographic paper to light from a color enlarger. The colors in these works were created by sampling selected colors in the Wyeth photographs and “mapping” them onto digital files of the photograms using gradient maps in Adobe Photoshop. Fluid Dynamics resemble watercolors, a medium the photographer explored at the onset of his career. In his interview with Hickson, Welling also pointed out how his “physical relationship with the medium, the literal and figurative fluidity of watercolor, caries over into how I work with photography as a malleable medium.” Since the late 1990’s, Welling has used photograms to underscore his interest in the “photographic” over “photographs,” pictures made using a camera and lens.
Also on view are a selection of gelatin silver prints from Frolic Architecture (2010), Welling’s collaborative project with the poet Susan Howe. These images were produced from original photograms created by painting on thin sheets of mylar that were contact printed on photographic paper. As with Fluid Dynamics, light, pigment, transparency, and fluidity take on an almost sculptural presence, while also reinforcing a painterly impulse.
James Welling was born in 1951 in Hartford, Connecticut, and lives and works in Los Angeles. He received his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. His work has been represented by David Zwirner, New York, since 2005. Welling is Area Head of Photography at UCLA and in the Fall of 2012 will be a Visiting Professor at Princeton University.
Opening on September 13, 2012 at the MK Gallery in Milton Keynes, England and traveling to Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain and the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, The Mind on Fire, Work 1970-1988 will explore the origin and development of Welling’s 1980’s abstract photographs. In January 2013, the University Museum of Contemporary Art, UMASS Amherst, MA will present James Welling: Place, an exhibition detailing the photographer’s work on New England from 1970 to 2010.
A major survey exhibition James Welling: Monograph will open at the Cincinnati Art Museum on February 2, 2013, accompanied by a monograph published by Aperture. The exhibition will travel to the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, in November 2013.
Solo museum exhibitions include the Wadsworth Atheneum (2012); Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota (2010); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; Art Gallery of York University, Toronto (both 2002); Sprengel Museum Hannover (1999); Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne, Switzerland (both 1998). In 2000, the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio organized a major survey of the artist’s work, which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.
In 2009, Welling’s work was featured in the critically acclaimed historical survey The Pictures Generation, 1974-1984 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and in 2008, he participated in the Whitney Biennial.
Work by the artist is held in major museum collections worldwide, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Image: Untitled, 2012. Oil on linen, 27 1/4 x 41 1/3 inches (69 x 105 cm)
For all press inquiries and RSVP to the press preview on September 6 (10:00 AM), please contact Ben Thornborough at David Zwirner 212-727-2070 firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening reception: Friday, September 7, 6 – 8 PM
525 West 19th Street - New York, NY 10011
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Monday, by appointment