As a key member of the Arte Povera circle of the early 1960s, Giovanni Anselmo qualifies as an elder statesman of contemporary sculpture. Since the 1960s, Anselmo has continued to produce a striking body of work at each and every turn in his career, bringing an intellectual rigor to the sparse yet poetic foundations of Arte Povera. One of the hallmarks of Anselmo's work is the potency with which the most elemental materials signify our understanding of the world from its most basic to its most complex relationships. Anselmo has steadily refined his ability of inserting the poetics of geology into the particularities of a given architectural space. His installations make it impossible to speak of the boundaries between painting, sculpture, and architecture. For the past decade, Anselmo has been using granite, and pigment applied directly to walls and windows to further blur the boundaries between genres. Conceptually taut but still lyrical, these installations have been nothing short of a formal tour de force.
"I, the world, things, life - we are points of energy, and it is not necessary to crystallize these points as it is to keep them open and alive, functioning in our life." In the case of this statement, made by the artist in 1969, the words "open, alive, functioning" can be equated with an artistic restlessness which has made his associations with any particular movement somewhat misleading. Although his initial lines of inquiry were formed in the early 60s, Anselmo has continued to produce a striking body of work at each and every turn in his career. In addition to exhibiting several older works, The Society has invited Anselmo to continue his investigations by creating a site specific work using the unique architectonics of this space.
September 29, 1996, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, IL
An informal discussion with Ben Nicholson, conducted by Daniel Libeskind and David F. Krell, during the opening reception.
Ben Nicholson has never shared the presumption that the union of form and function constitutes the truth in architecture. Throughout his body of work, from his collages to his full-scale constructions, Nicholson has been multiplying rather than fixing meaning within architecture. For Nicholson, a house is not a home. It's an appliance. In Nicholson's most fully realized project, aptly dubbed Appliance House, form not only emphasizes but exaggerates function. One of the Appliance House's six rooms, the Kleptoman Cell, has been constructed and will be on display at The Society. As a room whose sole function is to act as a container for items of the utmost value whether sentimental or practical, the Kleptoman Cell is an attempt to realize an architecture that reflects the fact that we are what we own.
While his projects are a pointed and poignant critique of a culture of industrial excess, Nicholson's engagement with architecture can be considered theoretical only if it is first acknowledged as philosophical. If his logic and interest appear fragmentary, it is because they are situated within a very grand scope.
The entrance to Nicholson's exhibition will be graced with the shredded remains of a B-52 bomber, a reminder that architecture must share the witness stand with destruction when testifying on behalf of civilization. But this logic is subverted as the icon of nuclear destruction has itself been violently dismantled. It is precisely this type of thinking, not to mention the multiplication and dispersion of meaning that allows Nicholson's work to be discussed within the context of Deconstruction, an architectural movement which crystallized over the last fifteen years. But Nicholson's work assumes rather than illustrates the premises of that movement. For, Nicholson, uncertainty within architecture is an invitation for forays into the imagination and a chance to seize upon unrealized possibilities.
September 25, 2011
Artist talk with Associate Curator and Director of Education, Hamza Walker
Van Kerckhoven’s artistic output includes a diverse array of mediums including painting, drawing, collage, computer animation, installation, and zines. Van Kerkhoven synthesizes disparate visual and textual elements in her work. Her illustrational technique favors hard-edged flat planes in a neon RGB palette, with her most common imagery being drawn from pre- sexual revolution soft pornography. She appropriates text from a range of discourses, including philosophy, science, poetry, theology. Her work addresses metaphysical reflections on mind, body, universe, and perception.
The Renaissance Society will present four new bodies of work, including numerous new works on paper; an interactive computer animation; and a related series of computer generated prints. The new work will be supplemented with selections of work from throughout her career.
Bill Brown is the Karla Scherer Distinguished Service Professor in American Culture, Department of English, Department of Visual Arts, and Committee on the History of Culture, at the University of Chicago.
This walk-through and discussion of O'Brien's exhibition will be led by Professor Bill Brown. Brown has an incredible range of scholarly interests, from popular literary genres revolving around baseball and kung fu to more rarified heights entailing close literary analysis of such figures as Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and Theodore Dreiser. Over the past decade, Brown has steadily taken up what he refers to as "object relations in the expanded field," a set of concerns better known as Thing Theory. The author of numerous articles, his most recent book is A Sense of Things: The Object Matter of American Literature."