The summer begins with three compelling solo shows by artists Mary Corse, Carol Bove, and Alberto Giacometti.
Mary Corse: A Survey in Light at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York
MAUPIN, NEW YORK; AND LISSON GALLERY, LONDON. PHOTOGRAPH © MARY CORSE. MARY CORSE, UNTITLED (WHITE MULTIPLE INNER BAND), 2003. COURTESY KAYNE GRIFFIN CORCORAN, LOS ANGELES, LEHMANN.
It’s been quite the year for American artist Mary Corse. The artist, who is most often affiliated with her innovative contributions towards the West Coast Light and Space movement in the 1960s, is receiving a well-deserved spotlight after a five decade course of art making. To say she’s been busy is an understatement – from her Topanga Canyon, California studio, Corse has been preparing for three new shows being shown in tandem: Lisson Gallery (London), Dia:Beacon (New York), and most recently, her first museum survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), which will travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art next year.
The challenge of portraying light through painting has been a perpetual study for Corse, and has evolved throughout the years. In the early days, testing a painting’s inherent formal qualities, to break from them, and seeking how to actualize light on a canvas led to a lifelong exploration. The use of unorthodox materials, such as glass microspheres, metallic bits, plexiglass, fluorescent light, and cast clay, informed the artist’s understanding of light—her early edge-defying canvases and sculptures led to flickering light boxed paintings and then to her groundbreaking White Light paintings and the Black Light and Black Earth series. Working closely with the artist, Kim Conaty – Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawings and Prints at the Whitney – explains the show has been structured to highlight the work from these three critical stages of Corse’s fifty-year career.
MARY CORSE, UNTITLED (TWO TRIANGULAR COLUMNS), 1965. WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, NEW YORK; GIFT OF MICHAEL STRAUS IN LOVING MEMORY OF HOWARD AND HELAINE STRAUS 2016.6A-B.
In the West Gallery, early works are based on one ambitious question, “How can a painting embody light?” Departing from her formal art training, Corse began to challenge the way light refracts, moves, and transforms by attempting to produce glowing paintings that seemingly act as their own source of light. Defying the traditional two-dimensionality of paintings, she produced canvases in octagonal, hexagonal and even diamond forms. In Untitled (White Diamond, Negative Stripe), 1965, the shape is sliced by an unpainted band dissecting the middle, drawing the focus to its center – an invitation for a “visual passageway to a space inside the painting’s surface.” Conaty connects this painting to the artist’s two freestanding sculptures Untitled (Two Triangular Columns), 1965, which also have a diverging channel through the sculpture’s surface. Together, these white triangular columns challenge space and volume as the viewer perceives light when it refracts on surfaces and edges as you move around it.
In her White Light paintings, Corse applied glass microspheres onto the surface of the canvas, refracting light and adding an illuminating quality. Appearing as glittering metallic grids on a plane, the subtleties of Corse’s brushstrokes become more evident, especially when the works are displayed together.
MARY CORSE, UNTITLED (WHITE DIAMOND, NEGATIVE STRIPE), 1965. COLLECTION OF MICHAEL STRAUS. PHOTOGRAPH © MARY CORSE.
After leaving her Los Angeles studio in the early 1970s for the rugged environment of Topanga Canyon, where she continues to reside, Corse found herself drawn back to the earth. In her Black Light paintings, she experiments with black acrylic squares joined with white glass microspheres, after “taking an interest in the reflective qualities of metals found in the ground.” In her Black Earth tile paintings, she dives even deeper, using clay and a lacquered black glaze to glisten with light.
The culmination of Corse’s extensive body of work is her White Light Band Series, 1991-2003, which feature a familiar involuntary omnipresent inner band within her paintings throughout the span of her career – an intuitive translation of bands of light moving in congruent with its viewers.
Mary Corse: A Survey in Light will be on view through November 25th at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
Carol Bove at David Zwirner London
CAROL BOVE, THE ROMANCE OF BLACK MONKEY, 2018. COURTESY THE ARTIST AND DAVID ZWIRNER, NEW YORK/LONDON/HONG KONG © CAROL BOVE.
At her third solo show at David Zwirner in London, artist Carol Bove presents a brand-new body of work in a vibrantly chromatic set of contorted steel sculptures. Her “collage sculptures” are pounded and shaped into seemingly supple compositions, although transfixed in a precarious state – ready to unfold at any moment. The crinkling effect, like paper, also beholds a sort of fluidity that could be compared to the delicate and dramatic folds of lavish drapery and fine garments. Arranged in assorted configurations, these sculptures of metal, steel tubing and lustrous black disc are a balanced meeting between matte, polished, and coarse surfaces.
CAROL BOVE, CUTTING CORNERS, 2018. COURTESY THE ARTIST AND DAVID ZWIRNER, NEW YORK/LONDON/HONG KONG © CAROL BOVE.
In Sleeping Muse, 2018, a single matte yellow steel tube lays on the ground with a glossy black disc punctuating its surface, suggesting the dot of a collapsed exclamation point. It seems the narrative of the yellow tube and black dot continues in another configuration: in Cutting Corners, 2018, two yellow matte tubes tangle each other, cradling the black disc. There is a sense of tension between weight and balance in these sculptures, adding to its playful, mischievous nature – ostensibly and visually lightweight, there is an impression it could topple over with a forceful blow. Bove’s ability to create pressure between excitability and turbulence, hard and soft, through her bent and twisted steel works is remarkable, given the arduous labor and skill it requires. Color is key in adding to the fresh, loosely flavorful compositions.
Carol Bove’s works will be on view through August 24th at David Zwirner in London.
Giacometti at the Guggenheim Museum in New York
DAVID HEALD, INSTALLATION VIEW: GIACOMETTI, 2018. PHOTO: DAVID HEALD © SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM FOUNDATION, 2018.
At the Guggenheim’s much-anticipated survey devoted to the work of Alberto Giacometti, 175 sculptures, paintings, and drawings are on view, many for the first time ever. The artist’s affiliation with the museum dates back to 1955, when the museum presented the first exhibition featuring sculptures by Giacometti. A 1974 retrospective followed, and now four decades later, a new examination of the artist’s career will offer a fresh perspective.
Giacometti’s tireless pursuit “to capture the essence of humanity” is presented through his expressive and tactile sculptures, paintings, and drawings. An active carving, sketching, and etching on top of a painted plaster sculpture, Head of a Woman (Flora Mayo), 1926, captures the emotive beauty and gentle facial movements of a woman posing motionless for the artist. Known to keep his subjects stationary for long durations of time, Giacometti favored using his brother Diego, his wife Annette Arm, and later his mistress Caroline as models.
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI, CAROLINE IN A RED DRESS (CAROLINE AVEC UNE ROBE ROUGE), 1964-65. FOUNDATION GIACOMETTI, PARIS. © 2018 ALBERT GIACOMETTI ESTATE/LICENSED BY VAGA AND ARS, NEW YORK.
In 1930-31, Giacometti created Suspended Ball, attracting the attention of French writer and poet André Breton, who extended an invitation to join his group of Surrealists. The tension between the suspended ball and crescent form is considered to arouse a “Surrealist fascination with desire” in a “dream-like space of the caged enclosure.” Although the two forms do not touch, the viewer is left with the tantalizing anticipation that they might. The metal cage appears throughout his works.
In The Nose, 1949 (cast 1964), a tormented bronze figure’s head, with an emaciated face, elongated nose and gaping mouth appears to be in anguish. Tied by a single string of rope, suspended in its cell, the work is in response to both World War II and the traumatic death of a close traveling companion.
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI, THE NOSE (LE NEZ), 1949 (CAST 1964). SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM, NEW YORK 66.1807 © 2018 ALBERT GIACOMETTI ESTATE/LICENSED BY VAGA AND ARS, NEW YORK. PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER MCKAY © THE SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM FOUNDATION.
In his later years from 1960 to 1965, his mistress Caroline posed for him, but they exposed a far different and rather isolated perception compared to his intimate studies of his wife Annette. The subject’s three-quarter-length portrait in his painting, Caroline in a Red Dress, 1964-65, acknowledges the remote perspective, but nonetheless a very concentrated depiction, full of repeated strokes, gestures, and an “over-painting” to capture her face precisely as he perceived it.
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI, HEAD OF A WOMAN (FLORA MAYO) (TÊTE DE FEMME [FLORA MAYO]), 1926. FOUNDATION GIACOMETTI, PARIS. © 2018 ALBERT GIACOMETTI ESTATE/LICENSED BY VAGA AND ARS, NEW YORK.
Visitors will also be able to view the figurative sculptures symbolic to his career: an elongated walking figure, a standing female figure and a bust of a man. The widely recognized lean figures and busts, usually of family and friends, were originally conceived in the mid-1950s for a permanent installation in the plaza of the Chase Manhattan Bank building. The project was never realized, but led to some of the artist’s most celebrated works.
Giacometti will be on view through September 12th at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.