Robert Whitman (b. 1935, New York) received a BA in Literature at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick in 1957. In 1958 he began studies in art history at Columbia University in New York. The same year he returned to Rutgers for his first solo exhibition while he continued to work in New York, becoming an active figure in the New York art world where he created and staged many of the first “Happenings,” along with artists Allan Kaprow, Lucas Samaras, Red Grooms, Jim Dine, and Claes Oldenburg. Whitman’s performances were rare however, in that they allowed for future recitals, while his contemporaries rarely re-staged performances, if at all. Whitman worked on six projects such as this from New York, to India, to Japan from 1968 through 1981. He has also made several films and incorporated them into his work. These include Window, 1963; Dressing Table, 1964; Shower, 1964; Sink, 1964; and Room, 1974.
New York—Pace is pleased to announce Soundies, an exhibition of Robert Whitman’s new audiovisual work. Soundies will be on view at 32 East 57th Street from April 2 to May 2, 2015.
In his newest body of work, Whitman continues his exploration of the possibilities of images that has occupied his practice since his involvement with the Happenings and the Expanded Cinema movement. The exhibition’s title derives from the term talkies, used to describe the first motion pictures with sound. Each work features a sonically evocative still image such as dripping faucet or a diving board. He complements the image with audio of the associative sound and a wall label with a matter-of-fact description of the image. Captured from his immediate surroundings, each work possesses a universally perceptible quality when heard, seen or described.
The works stem from his longstanding interest in developing works and performances that can be experienced by blind and sighted audiences. For Soundies, Whitman consulted with Emilie Gossiaux, an artist who is blind, who helped him determine nonvisual ways to encounter the images. By relying on text and audio elements, Whitman shuns any hierarchy that might privilege the visual over the other senses, inviting viewers to experience the work aurally or discursively.
The works in Soundies relate to Whitman’s new performance Swim, premiering at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University on March 26, 2015. Whitman will create a multisensory performance that expands the experience of theater into something that can be felt through all the senses. Presented by Peak Performances, there will be four presentations of Swim from March 26 to March 29.
Robert Whitman (born 1935, New York, NY) was a leading figure in New York’s downtown art scene in the 1960s. Along with Claes Oldenburg, Jim Dine, Allan Kaprow and Lucas Samaras, he created some of the first Happenings, though unlike his peers, Whitman allowed his works to be restaged. Whitman is a vanguard in both performance and media works, often working at the forefront of new technological innovations and considered a key figure in the Expanded Cinema movement. From 1968 to 1970, he developed the Experiments in Art and Technology program with Robert Rauschenberg and engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer.
Whitman has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1968); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1968); Jewish Museum, New York (1968–69). In 2003, Dia Center for the Arts, New York, organized an exhibition of his work that traveled to Museu Serralves, Museu de Arte Contemporanea, Porto, and Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. His performance work Local Report, originally conceived in 1972, was recently performed in 2005 at multiple venues including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Creative Time organized a subsequent presentation of the work in New York in 2012.
His theater works have been presented at the New York Film Festival (1966); Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (1974); The Kitchen, New York (1974, 1990); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1974): Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1976, 2003–04); Dia: Beacon (2011); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1982); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1987); Philadelphia Museum of Art (1987, 1989); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA (1990); and Raven Row, London (2014), among other venues.
His work is included in public collections including Dia Center for the Arts, Beacon, NY; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Musée National d´Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, among others.
Robert Whitman lives and works in Warwick, NY. This is his seventh exhibition at the gallery.
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