Back and Forth in New York - Art Collector

Insallation view, Chamberlain, Frankenthaler, Heizer, Kiefer, Stella at Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2015. Photo: Robert McKeever. Courtesy: Michael Heizer and Gagosian Gallery, New York

By Jess Holburn

Retrospectives abound this week with the Niele Toroni survey at the Swiss Institute and an installation of large-scale paintings and sculptures by John Chamberlain, Helen Frankenthaler, Michael Heizer, Anselm Kiefer, and Frank Stella at the Gagosian West 21st Street gallery.

Conceptual artist Toroni makes a rare appearance in New York with his first institutional show in 25 years spanning five decades of work, featuring imprints on waxed fabric, canvas, and paper, as well as new, site-specific works. Systematic in approach, throughout his career Toroni has constantly challenged preconceived methods of art-making by liberating painting from its own representation. Echoing Italian poet and novelist Cesare Pavese’s idea that the only joy in the world is through beginnings, Toroni’s work perpetuates itself through recommencement and infinite variations.

Curated by Clément Delépine, Toroni’s international solo exhibitions include the Villa Pisani Bonetti, Bagnolo di Lonigo, Vicenza in 2012 and the Museo Civico di Belle Arti, Lugano, Switzerland in 2005, among many others.

The Gagosian show is ever more cumbersome in scope, from Chamberlain’s contorted and crunched steel sculptures to Heizer’s 5.7-ton granite boulder inserted into the wall, this show serves as a crash course for art students in the recent history of large scale feats – not to mention gargantuan art market prices. A quick Wikipedia glance will tell you that Chamberlain's
Nutcracker (1958) from the Allan Stone Estate sold in 2011 at auction for $4.7 million, more than twice its high $1.8 million estimate and a record price for the artist at auction. Chamberlain’s painted chromium and plated steel piece TASTEYLINGUS from 2010 makes an appearance in this show, inspired by the jagged black and white abstract paintings of Franz Kline. Heizer just had his first solo exhibition of his so called “negative wall sculptures” at Gagosian. His granite megalith perched above a concrete trench has been on permanent view at LACMA since 2012, his work is also collected and exhibited by MoMA New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art and Dia:Beacon in New York, among many other collections across the United States and worldwide.

Stella’s interweaving wall relief
Midnight, Forecastle (D-22,2x) from 1990, as inspired by Herman Melville’s climactic chapter in Moby Dick, certainly arouses excitement for Stella’s upcoming retrospective at the Whitney Museum this autumn. Recognised as one of the great American artists of the 20th century, Frankenthaler also features in this retrospective of a retrospective combination. Frankenthaler’s 2013 exhibition Painted on 21st Street: Helen Frankenthaler From 1950 to 1959, quite naturally received glowing reviews.The artist’s work is represented in the permanent collections of institutions worldwide, including the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, among a rather extensive list.

Kiefer’s oversized books made from terracotta earth, cardboard and lead, sprouting sunflowers made of resin and aluminium, serve to remind us of the weight of the past. Kiefer’s customarily dense painting
Lichtfalle/Light Trap (1999) assigns stars their NASA catalogue numbers and incorporates a steel hunting trap, speaking to the disjuncture between man and the cosmos. Recent retrospective surveys include Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth at the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 2005 and Anselm Kiefer at Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in 2007.

Work by Anselm Kiefer, Frank Stella, Helen Frankenthaler, John Chamberlain, Michael Heizer is on view at Gagosian Gallery West 21st Street, New York from 21 August to 3 October 2015.

Niele Toroni,
Swiss Institute shows at 18 Wooster Street, New York from 3 June to 6 September 2015.

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