This January, Daniel Buren presents his third solo exhibition across two New York gallery venues; his work will be showcased at the Bortolami Gallery at 520 West Street and Petzel Gallery at 537 West 22nd Street. The galleries will simultaneously exhibit works from the series Electricity, Paper, Vinyl – WORKS IN SITU & SITUATED WORKS. Bortolami is showing Buren’s recent works from 2012, while pieces from 1968 – 2012 will be on view at Petzel through February 16th.
The artist combines his distinctive methods of distorting viewpoints and altering perceptions of light and space in order to transform the architectural environment into a brilliant, aesthetically stimulating spectacle.
His early minimal works with paper, such as Projection, epitomize his style of in situ works, converting a gallery wall into part of its environment. The piece, which is featured in the Petzel Gallery, came to fruition with the assistance of the textile company Brochier Soierie, which designed the unique fiber optic technology used in Buren’s textile materials.
Buren has often been classified as an abstract minimalist since he began his career in 1968. The artist earned a reputation for his signature stripes, always 8.7 cm wide, and typically alternating between white and color. The artist has become something of an archetypal figure of 60s minimalism, alongside fellow conceptual artist Sol Lewitt. Since the 1960s Buren has consistently showcased installations around the world, with 400 in the US alone. His awards include the 1986 Golden Lion Award, and he has more recently had exhibitions at S.M.A.K. and Monumenta 2012 at the Grand Palais in Paris.
The showcase of the simultaneous exhibitions unite both Works in Situ and Situated Works. Each variable exudes the simplicity of bringing a design idea to life by means of manipulating external site factors, regardless of whether the installation is a situated work constructed in a public subway, or if the creation is a reworked paper design – such as Pivoines – a piece where the artist has enhanced light to generate a dazzling show of flowers.
When entering the brilliant fiber optics room, the aforementioned visual mediums customarily used by Buren can be instantly perceived by the viewer; it is striking how the artist’s distinctive stripes are consistently present in all of the works’ developments, establishing a sense of flow. The enforcement of such precise constanta is remarkable when one considers that his works are not transportable, and temporary by nature.
The concept of Buren’s work is to change and alter an environment, yet he is insistent on scrupulously retaining a tangible continuity that acts as his ‘signature’. This conveys a certain focal point upon which to organize his conceptual ideal. The circular disc of light in the fiber optic room exhibits this focal point, or rather, gravitational energy, as the center of the idea.
The manipulation of architecture to transform the environment into a unique work is a clear expression of how Buren has advanced from the style of Works in Situ (although the artist projects the notion that he “lives and works in situ”). It is not merely the design idea that creates the art, but the design combined with the factor of architectural alteration that collectively “becomes the machine that makes the art”, to quote Sol Lewitt.
– E. Longstaff