On view this month at Andrew Kreps Gallery, the gallery presents a meditation and exploration of the history of Assemblage, culling together a range of works that span over eighty years and drawing from the work of more than forty artists who explored and shaped that mode of practice.
The show draws in particular on curator William Seitz’s landmark 1961 exhibition The Art of Assemblage, which went on view at the Museum of Modern Art as a starting point that traced the origins of the medium from the early 20th century to the early 1960s, where it gained an increasing foothold across a variety of movements and styles. As Seitz said in the exhibition’s press release, “Every work of art is an incarnation: an investment of matter with spirit. The term ‘assemblage’ has been singled out with this duality in mind, to denote not only a specific technical procedure and form used in the literary and musical as well as the plastic arts, but also a complex of attitudes and ideas.”
The show here takes that notion as a starting point, and brings together a range of works and artists originally shown in that exhibition. Work by Louise Nevelson, John Chamberlain, and Anne Ryan, among many others, are on view here, presenting an initial point of entry and frames and elaborates on the artists whose work helped establish Assemblage as a meaningful new mode of practice.
Throughout the exhibition, Assemblage demonstrates a unifying impulse to decode, and understand material culture, which transcends the societal and economic factors that have historically barred artists from receiving formal education, and artistic acceptance. The works included demonstrate the myriad ways artists have used found objects, and the traces of daily life, to not only address aesthetic concerns, but also form immediate responses to their own lived environment. Through a series of nearly alchemical processes, these materials are stripped, combined, transformed, and revised, remaining tied to their unique social contexts, while simultaneously accruing new resonance and meaning. Seen together, the exhibition suggests an ongoing, and open-ended history of a medium that remains foundational to the human experience, and at its most successful, creates a site where invention and authenticity can coalesce.
The show closes on August 12th.
– C. Rhinehardt
On the Nature of Things [Exhibition Site]