300 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, California
September 18 – December 13, 2014
Menlo Park—From September 18 through December 13, Pace will present A Brief History of Pace, a survey exhibition including over sixty works by twelve of the artists who have made Pace one of the leading galleries for over half a century. The exhibition marks the extension of Pace’s temporary Menlo Park gallery, located in the former Tesla headquarters, and follows surveys of Alexander Calder and Tara Donovan. A timeline of Pace’s history will provide context to the works on view, chronicling both Pace and art history since the postwar period.
A Brief History of Pace will include sculpture, painting, photography, video, prints and works on paper made between the 1950s and the present. The artists on view span decades and continents, yet are united by their groundbreaking practices that defied the conventions of a given movement or medium. The selected works will illuminate each artist’s ability to bring his or her heterodox worldview into art, and the exhibition creates a conversation between disparate voices and movements.
In his decades of practice, Robert Rauschenberg (1928-2005) consistently created new approaches to art production through his innovative spirit and embrace of technology. His sculptures and photo collages, which sought to draw the world into his art, remain influential to artists worldwide today. These works, made between 1996 and 2000, represent a novel iteration of his groundbreaking image transfer processes and reveal the importance of photography and his international travels to his practice. An exhibition of Rauschenberg’s work for the NASA Art Program will open at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University in December. The pioneer of Art Brut, Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) stands alongside Rauschenberg as a singular voice in twentieth-century art. The exhibition will feature works that show Dubuffet’s vivacious embrace of abstraction and figuration in both painting and sculpture. His art deviated from the intellectual credos and dogmatism of the Paris circles that surrounded him in the early and mid-twentieth century. Seeking to appeal to a fundamentally human quality in viewers, Dubuffet said that painting “allows one to express the various stages of thought, including the deeper levels, the underground stages of mental processes.” In October, The Museum of Modern Art, New York will present Jean Dubuffet: Soul of the Underground, its first survey of the artist’s work in more than 25 years.
A towering figure in Minimalism and Conceptualism, Sol LeWitt’s (1928-2007) structures—his preferred term for his mathematical sculptural works—and drawings stand among the most important and influential artworks of the postwar period. LeWitt’s articulated a visual language attuned to the expression of ideas through the distillation of line and color as forms. “The ideas need not be complex. Most ideas that are successful are ludicrously simple,” he wrote in 1967. Working in the tradition of Minimalism, Joel Shapiro’s (b. 1941) sculptures present carefully engineered abstract, colored shapes, and play with form, balance and perception. His works rely on a façade of simplicity to play with viewer’s sense of scale, both in relation to the sculpture and its spatial context. The exhibition will present a selection of recent sculptures by Shapiro, in both bronze and wood, and works on paper.
The exhibition will also present works by two of the twentieth century’s most celebrated sculptors: John Chamberlain (1927-2011) and Louise Nevelson (1899-1988). A selection of Chamberlain’s sculptures, which were made out of recycled car scraps in their earliest iteration, take on new meaning in the former Tesla facility. His painted ribbons of stainless steel contort and flail, adopting the Abstract Expressionist mode of painting into boldly colored sculptures. “A common material with pre-formed mythic content shakes off its origins through formal transformations, even though the result makes a mockery of formalism,” critic Brian O’Doherty wrote of Chamberlain’s work. Works by Nevelson elucidate the artist’s unique embrace of Minimalism, Abstract Expressionism and assemblage. Four of her iconic black painted wood sculptures will be shown along with a Plexiglas wall relief and a black, welded aluminum sculpture that illustrate her ability to articulate her vision in a range of materials.
The exhibition also highlights three artists whose work orbits the rise of Pop Art in the 1960s but remains firmly committed to painting. Jim Dine’s (b. 1935) roots in Neo-Dada and Happenings along with his commitment to painting complicate any categorical placement of the artist. Dine renders perfunctory objects like a paint brush with all the seriousness of an historical painter, and adorns gestural fields of color with household objects, introducing an absurdist humor to the work. Similarly, Alex Katz (b. 1927) has confronted a range of art historical interests with his portraits and landscapes whose simple surfaces belie their complicated method. The natural scenery of his paintings presented in Menlo Park conflate the precision of the Old Masters with the spare flatness of Japanese woodblocks and teeter on the edge of abstraction. Chuck Close (b. 1940) has energetically redefined the terms and methods of both painting and portraiture throughout his career. Close’s paintings navigate a space between pointillism and digital imagery with their pixelated appearance. He likewise synthesizes analog and mechanized processes, innovating methods such as using stamps in lieu of a brush to apply his oil paints.
A Brief History of Pace includes a selection of younger, contemporary artists who evince Pace’s sustained commitment to exhibiting vital artists from international backgrounds. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s (b. 1948) work adapts the Minimalist language of artist’s like Sol LeWitt into the photographic medium. A Brief History of Pace will feature a variety of work from different series by the artist, but will focus on his much lauded Seascapes series. His spare black-and-white images reduce the compositions to shading and lines, employing the horizon as a dividing register of the images between water and air. Sugimoto recently had a solo exhibition at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, and will also open a new solo exhibition in February at The Phillips Collection, Washington. Paintings by Zhang Huan (b. 1965) made in the past three years explore his transition from the stark ash-on-linen depictions of the natural world to his ebullient, horror vacui skull paintings. The paintings demonstrate the artist’s range of expression and incorporate the Buddhist imagery and aesthetic influences that have pervaded his work since the early 1990s. In July and August, Pace Chesa Büsin in Zuoz, Switzerland, presented a retrospective of the artist’s work. Michal Rovner (b. 1957) uses technology to spark a conversation between history and the present. The artist projects colorful, dynamic digital imagery on ancient-seeming clay and stone vessels, enlivening these static objects through dancing light. Raised in the Middle East, Rovner’s work forces time periods to speak with one another but also dissolve into her earthen materials, reconciling humanity with the environment and weight of history.
Pace Menlo Park will also install works in an adjacent gallery by Yoshitomo Nara, Bridget Riley and Kiki Smith, as well as Tara Donovan, whose work since 2000 was recently surveyed in Menlo Park.
Since opening in Boston in 1960, Pace has presented work by some of the most important artists of modern and contemporary art in its more than 800 exhibitions, including ones which have travelled to museums, and published more than 400 exhibition catalogues. Pace has ten locations worldwide: four in New York; two in London; one in Beijing; one in Hong Kong; and a temporary space in Zuoz, Switzerland. Pace Menlo Park opened in April with an exhibition of work by Alexander Calder.
Featured Artists: John Chamberlain / Chuck Close / Jim Dine / Jean Dubuffet / Alex Katz / Sol LeWitt / Louise Nevelson / Robert Rauschenberg / Michal Rovner / Joel Shapiro / Hiroshi Sugimoto / Zhang Huan