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David Wojnarowicz
EARTH, WIND, FIRE AND WATER
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445
David Wojnarowicz
EARTH, WIND, FIRE AND WATER
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拍品詳情

當代藝術日拍

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David Wojnarowicz
1954 - 1992
EARTH, WIND, FIRE AND WATER
acrylic, spraypaint and collage on canvas
78 3/4 by 157 1/2 in. 200 by 400.1 cm.
Executed in 1986.
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This work has been requested for the forthcoming retrospective exhibition, David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night, to be held at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain, in May - September 2019. 

來源

Galerie Buchholz, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner 

展覽

Cologne, Anna Friebe Galerie, David Wojnarowicz, 1986
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night, July - September 2018, pp. 214 - 215, illustrated in color 

相關資料

Spanning performance, photography, painting, sculpture, and time-based media, David Wojnarowicz’s diverse body of work is unified by an underlying political urgency and a highly personal visual symbology. Executed in 1986, Earth, Wind, Fire and Water captures the pivotal moment in which Wojnarowicz’s set of signs coalesced into a cohesive and potent language. Expansive in scale, the present work functions as a vital Rosetta Stone to the artist’s creative universe, capturing his overarching conceptual aims and enduring as a monument to his struggle against the injustices undergirding an unequal society.

Born in 1954 and raised in New Jersey, Wojnarowicz had a deeply troubled childhood, marred by abuse and sexual violence, and had no formal art training beyond high school. Starting in the 1970s, Wojnarowicz began writing poetry and then transitioned to photographic projects and paintings, crafting works which equally engaged critical theory, social activism, and art history. Far from an outsider artist, Wojnarowicz was thoroughly enmeshed in the downtown New York art world, producing work in the orbits of the highly influential Civilian Warfare, Gracie Mansion, and P.P.O.W. galleries. Working alongside contemporaries such as Kiki Smith, Felix Gonzales-Torres, and Peter Hujar, “Wojnarowicz was a romantic who believed in the power, expression, and political efficacy of his art” (Adam Weinberg, “Forward” in David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night, New York 2018, p. 7), using his voice to confront and deconstruct the inequity inherent to the American myth.

Multilayered and visually complex, the present work masterfully incorporates a plurality of conceptual frameworks, providing rare access to the artist’s visual lexicon. Wojnarowicz was asked to create a body of work for a show of paintings at Galerie Anna Friebe in Cologne in 1986, and settled on the art historically rich allegorical representation of the four elements. Rather than channel classical interpretations of the theme, Wojnarowicz refitted each elemental attribute within his bourgeoning set of signs. Framed by a crumbling civilization, the present work plays host to four large elemental avatars, presiding over a prototypical southwestern landscape. The artist used this setting to engage his notion of the Preinvented World, an allegory for the constrictions and predetermined order of Western society. Defining the Preinvented World in his essay, Living Close to the Knives, Wojnarowicz described this space as “the bought-up world; the owned world. The world of coded sounds: the world of language, the world of lies. The packaged world; the world of speed in metallic motion. The Other World where I’ve always felt like an alien” (The artist quoted in David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night, New York 2018, p. 198).

Rising behind the ruins of the artist’s Preinvented World, Wojnorovicz’s four elements are rendered in his unmistakable graphic style, their simplistic forms belying a conceptual complexity and integrity. Each figure in its own way is the product, or perpetrator, of a violent force: Earth is seemingly damaged beyond repair, and water, enmeshed in a bed of flames, is in mortal peril. Conversely, Wind and Fire are reveling in the wake of the destruction around them. The artist makes this mayhem ambiguous, using a cartoonish visual strategy to depict his apocalyptic scene in order to posit what it would mean for the slate to be wiped clean, and the possibility of renewal.

Evading easy legibility, the present work is an epic distillation of conflict and struggle on the scale of history painting. Wojnarowicz’s elemental avatars would appear again and again in his body of work, coming to symbolize people, relationships and events depending on how they were deployed in his compositions. Though they have myriad functions in Wojnarowicz’s diverse output, each of the symbols included in Earth, Wind, Fire and Water are deeply personal, touching on a roiling anger and motivation to direct that emotion towards justice. In the words of Hanya Yangihara, “Indeed, part of what makes Wojnarowicz’s work so potent is how sincere it is. It reminds you that there is a distinction between cynicism and anger, because the work, while angry, is rarely bitter—bitterness is the absence of hope; anger is hope’s companion. What you find instead, tucked like blossoms…is real desire: for love…but also for belonging…In a country where some people are reviled other people are valued, and Wojnarowicz’s gall comes from his daring to have a sense of entitlement, his expectation that he, and all his tribe, should be valued, too” (Hanya Yanagihara, “The Burning House” in David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night, New York 2018, p. 67).

 

當代藝術日拍

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