This summer at Marlborough Gallery in Chelsea, the group show Schema: World as Diagram presents a dynamic and intricate series of investigations into lines of thought, diagrammatic modes of thinking, and the use of graphical and indexical modes of organization to present and obscure the process of thought and creation. Occupying two floors of the gallery, the exhibition brings together over 50 artists whose works engage in these themes.
Diagrams have permeated human civilization, providing indispensable visual tools for every conceivable endeavor. But while diagrammatic designs have been central to many artistic traditions around the globe, it was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that diagrams began to proliferate in Western Art, catalyzed by artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, and Hilma af Klint. Since then, countless artists have turned to the diagrammatic, which has played a significant role in Conceptual Art, theoretically oriented abstraction, and spiritual investigation. For many artists in this exhibition, the diagram allows for a synthetization of highly structured and codified visual information and offers a solution to the abstraction/figuration binary.
Here, that mode of inquiry and practice takes center stage, and the show makes much of the selections here to underscore both a range of conceptual and pictorial interests in concert. In Thomas Hirschhorn’s Schema Art and Public Space, the artist’s work makes an intriguing case for the medium, elaborating and demonstrating its capacity in text on the very surface of the work, a thesis statement of sorts that underlines the show’s arc perfectly. By contrast, Loren Munk‘s The Ontology of art , Study I takes a broader move, outlining art as production, social and economic engagements simultaneously, and tracing its movement through each of these spheres. Other works, like Charles Gaines’s work, mine language to create the conceptual and graphical core of the work, a mass of letters that build their own internal logic.
Throughout, the use of text and language, image and form are deployed through a series of operations to arrive at a range of varied final conclusions. The show closed August 11th.
– D. Creahan
Marlborough [Exhibition Site]