Messeplatz, Basel, Switzerland
19 - 22 June 2014
Pace is pleased to announce its participation in Art Basel, taking place in Messeplatz, Basel, Switzerland from 19 – 22 June 2014. This year, the gallery’s presentation (B20) will focus on two exhibitions. The booth will feature sculptures, installations, maquettes and works on paper by the highly influential American artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, as well as paintings, drawings and sculptures by the Korean artist Lee Ufan, who has been selected as this year’s guest for the prestigious Versailles contemporary art programme (17 June – 2 November 2014).
Oldenburg and van Bruggen created over forty monumental public sculptures in Europe, Asia and the United States. Ranging from 1960 to 2009, the works presented at Art Basel have rarely been seen and mostly originate from the artists’ own collection.
The display of Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s work affords a colourful insight into their unique approach to sculpture. As leading members of Pop Art in New York during the 1960s, Oldenburg and van Bruggen questioned the definition of art by taking ordinary, even banal objects from the fabric of commercial life and elevating them to works of art. As their practice evolved, they began creating site-specific, monumental urban sculptures placing their art beyond the context of the museum and into the realm of architecture.
A focal piece at Pace’s booth is Leaning Clarinet (2006) from the distorted instruments and rare drawings series created from 1992 to 2006. After moving to a French Château in the Loire region in 1992, Oldenburg and van Bruggen began experimenting with musical instruments and reconstructing their shapes. This rendered the instruments unplayable and forced them to perform a different behaviour. “…vivid colours, explicit forms, and actions imposed on them, such as tying, slicing, unwinding, and entwining.” – Coosje van Bruggen *1
The blue clarinet’s arching body in Leaning Clarinet (2006) mirrors a human spine or a tree being blown in the wind, its branches being pulled violently by nature’s force. Here we encounter the artists’ tendency to employ analogy in animating their sculptures with life. A device is also seen in the soft sculpture Soft Viola (2002) in which the sagging instrument, inspired by a Vermeer painting, is unable to fulfil its lively function. The accompanying drawings such as Clarinet Leaning in the Wind (2004) and Tied Trumpet (2004), vividly document the artists’ creative process.
A theme underlying much of Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s work is the contrasting forces of the pull of gravity and flight. Inverted Collar and Tie (1993), a study for a large-scale sculpture of a collar and tie balancing vertically on a pedestal, exemplifies this theme. The sculpture is a permanent fixture in the Platz der Republik, Frankfurt. Typewriter Eraser (1977) [picture], a highlight of Pace’s exhibition in Basel, replicates a pink rubber typewriter eraser and its blue brush. The once familiar office supply seems to elegantly fall on the ground, scattering the brush parts in the air. Three larger editions of this piece (produced in 1999), towering at 19 feet and weighing close to five tons, are today respectively located at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, at the Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park and the CityCenter Fine Arts Collection, Nevada. Once enlarged to architectural proportions, the mundane object interacts humorously with its surroundings. The scale highlights the elements of parody and the elasticity of imagery at the heart of their work as they transform, enlarge, and reimagine ordinary objects placing them into a new environment.
Korean artist Lee Ufan has been selected to present ten new works in the gardens of Versailles this summer. Pace is honoured to show paintings and installations that range from the 1970s to the present in Basel.
The artist’s work, in both theory and practice, demonstrates mastery at crossing boundaries and initiating poetic dialogues between cultures, nature, material and space. A founder and spokesperson of the Mono-ha (“Object School”), Lee Ufan’s work meditates on gesture and nature, giving rise to new perceptions. Mono-ha appeared at the same time as the Arte Povera movement and aimed at questioning modern commercial and industrialized values through disposable objects.
From 1972–73, Lee Ufan embarked on two series that he would continue for the rest of the decade. Titled From Point and From Line, the artist viewed point and line as the basic units of the cosmos. In From Point, the artist used one brush of paint to apply compact dabs from left to right until no color on the brush was left. He would repeat the gestures until the whole canvas was covered by subtle rows of gradually fading spots. While working on From Point in 1973, Lee Ufan began another series, From Line, which repeats similar gestures from top to bottom and thus accentuates the vertical dimension of the painting. Both series aroused critical debate about Lee Ufan’s abandonment of not-making in favor of making. This is an issue that rose out of criticism against the modern notion of productivism. Both series had a profound impact on Korean artists, such as Park Seobo and the Dansaekhwa group. Around 1978, Lee Ufan gradually abandoned the previous systematic and machine-like approach, and started to apply loose and crooked marks.
From Point, (1980), a major work on display on Pace’s booth, was created during this turning period, and reflects his transition into more dynamic brushstrokes.
For the first time, works from Lee Ufan’s most recent series of Dialogue paintings ranging from 2008 to 2014, are presented by Pace at Art Basel. The Dialogue series is a new painting series that Lee Ufan has worked on since the 2000s. Each individual brush impression displays a fluid transition from gray to almost white paint that blends into the white of the primed canvas. Art historian Silke von Bersordt-Wallrabe states in her essay for Lee Ufan’s 2008 Pace dual exhibition in New York: “A successful dialogue, is characterized by the fact that it keeps activity (one’s own utterances) and passivity (taking in, following, responding to one’s counterpart) in a dynamic balance.”. She praises the Dialogue series “for its philosophical idea of fullness and emptiness”. The unpainted canvas is activated by the simple gesture of a single, carefully applied brushstroke and the colours reach harmony. In Lee Ufan’s work, the fullness and emptiness actively dialogue.
Also on display at the fair is Relatum - dynamics place, an installation from 2008, that features a stone placed on a black steel plate. Since the 1990s, Lee Ufan has used the Latin term ”Relatum” to describe his three-dimensional works. “Relatum” suggests a sense of openness allowing the works to adapt to different contexts. “After many years of sculptural work, the materials I use most frequently converge towards stones and steel plates. I am not sure how that came to be. It is true that in my work, I’ve tried to establish a relationship between stones and steel as I did with ‘the painted’ and ‘not painted’ and in sculpture ‘the made’ and ‘not made’. One could say that I chose steel as a symbol of industrial society. I want to associate nature with industrialism by creating a relationship between stones and steel.” Lee Ufan in conversation with Alfred Pacquement, curator of the Versailles exhibition*. Ten “Relata” are featured in the gardens of the Château de Versailles, on view through 2 November 2014.
*1 Claes OldenBurg and Coosje van Bruggen, Sculpture by the Way, 2006, pg. 32
*2 Excerpts from the interview published in the catalogue Lee Ufan Versailles, RMN Grand Palais
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s (b. 1929/1942) work can be found in nearly 50 public collections at major institutions worldwide. Together, they designed and executed more than 40 large-scale projects throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, including Batcolumn (1977), Chicago; Flashlight (1981), University of Nevada, Las Vegas , Spoonbridge and Cherry (1988), Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Walker Art Center; Bicyclette Ensevelie (Buried Bicycle) (1990), Parc de la Villette, Paris; Monument to the Last Horse (1991), The Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas; Mistos (Match Cover) (1992), Barcelona; Shuttlecocks (1994), Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Soft Shuttlecock (1995), Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; Saw, Sawing (1996), Tokyo; Lion’s Tail (1999), Musei Civici Veneziani, Venice; Ago, Filo e Nodo (Needle, Thread and Knot) (2000), Milan; the 40-foot-high Dropped Cone (2001) atop the Neumarkt Galerie, Cologne, Germany; Cupid’s Span (2002), Rincon Park, San Francisco; Big Sweep (2006), Denver Museum of Art. Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s oeuvre also encompassed many smaller park and garden sculptures as well as indoor installations. Their work has been featured in numerous exhibitions since 1979.
Van Bruggen died in 2009, and the couple’s final collaborative project, Tumbling Tacks, was installed in the Kistefos Sculpture Park in Norway in May of the same year. In August of 2011, Oldenburg’s Paint Torch, a 53- foot-high sculpture of a paintbrush with a stylized glob of orange paint on the ground beside it, was unveiled in Lenfest Plaza at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The installation marked a return to Philadelphia, where Oldenburg realized his first large-scale civic sculpture, Clothespin, in 1976, which was also the last before partnering with van Bruggen.
Lee Ufan (b. 1936) emerged as one of the founders and major proponents of the avant-garde Mono-ha (Object School) group in the late 1960s. Mono-ha was Japan’s first internationally recognized contemporary art movement, rejecting Western notions of representation and emphasizing materials, perception and interrelationships between space and matter. Lee creates his sculptural works using only two materials: steel and stone. In 1970, the artist explained that “the highest level of expression is not to create something from nothing, but rather to nudge something that already exists so that the world shows up more vividly.” This summer, Lee will have a major solo exhibition at the prestigious Chateau de Versailles in France. Lee joined the gallery in 2007.
Pace is a leading contemporary art gallery representing many of the most significant international artists and estates of the 20th and 21st centuries. Founded by Arne Glimcher in Boston in 1960 and led by Marc Glimcher, Pace has been a constant, vital force in the art world and has introduced many renowned artists’ work to the public for the first time. Pace has mounted more than 700 exhibitions, including scholarly exhibitions that have subsequently travelled to museums, and published nearly 400 exhibition catalogues. Today Pace has eight permanent locations worldwide: four in New York; two in London; one in Beijing and one in Hong Kong and two temporary spaces: one in Zuoz, Switzerland and one in Menlo Park, California.
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This summer from June 17 to November 2, the Palace of Versailles presents ten sculptural works by Korean-born artist Lee Ufan throughout the palace's historic grounds. Lee Ufan emerged in the 1960s as one of the leading proponents of the Japanese avant-garde and has dedicated his post-minimalist practice to distilling the relationship between space, perception and object. Inspired by the radicalism of Arte Povera in the 1960s, Lee was at the forefront of Japan’s first internationally recognize