The Renaissance Society, Chicago

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Jessica Stockholder


Approaching architectural space and scale with the formal inventiveness and speed common to gestural abstract painting, Stockholder took the art world by storm in the late 1980s.

The first half of the catalog chronicles Stockholder’s installations from 1983–1991 in 35 beautiful color plates. Accompanying the reproductions are short descriptions, authored by the artist, addressing the architectural and material choices of each installation. The second half of the catalogue contains John Miller’s essay “Formalism and Its Other”, which keenly places Stockholder’s activity somewhere between the rigorous formalism of Clement Greenberg’s critical writing and the liberating potential of Allan Kaprow’s Happenings.

Published in conjunction with the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; text in Dutch and English

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Georg Herold, Albert Oehlen, Christopher Wool


This fantastic book, designed by the artists and edited by Karen Marta, brings together a quartet of outstanding essayists who responded in kind to the acerbic wit and intelligence of the German multidisciplinary artists Georg Herold and Albert Oehlen, and the American painter Christopher Wool. Since this exhibition these three have continued to critique artistic stereotypes and strategies with stark, sometimes brutal humor. Together they form an ironic postmodern version of the Marx Brothers chasing one another, seeing who can be the first to give truth to Derrida’s statement: “What is art? As long as one refuses to give an answer in advance to this question, ‘art’ is only a word.”

 

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Gaylen Gerber


The exhibition of Gerber’s work at The Renaissance Society in 1992 marked the culmination of a ten-year period in which Gerber persistently painted the same opaque, monochromatic still-life over and over, in a bold artistic assertion that seeing is not believing but simply perceiving.

This catalog is the first monograph publication of Gerber’s work, and documents the artist’s installations of these paintings at various international exhibitions, including Documenta 9 in 1992, and Robbin Lockett Gallery in Chicago in 1988. At the Society’s exhibition, Gerber hung a single row of his paintings abutted end to end on a wall crossing the entire gallery space.

Jan Avgiko’s catalog essay, written in close tandem with Gerber, is a brilliant investigation of the role perceptual aesthetic theories play in the modernist and postmodernist monochrome.

 

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Heimo Zobernig


Austrian Heimo Zobernig’s work intervenes, rearranges, recontextualizes, and down-right makes fun of the architecture of museum/gallery spaces so as to demystify its illusory potential and reinscribe it with self-referentiality. Zobernig is among several significant contemporary artists such as Michael Asher, General Idea, and Daniel Buren who have made it their mission to critique sites of modern art.

In Zobernig’s 1996 installation, the gallery walls from the Society’s preceding exhibition were laid flat on the floor-a neat-handed figure/ground reversal turning support into sculpture. In another provocative turn, Zobernig brought the outside in to this altered gallery space via video – he had himself filmed cavorting around the Renaissance Society hallway naked in front of walls that were painted video back-drop blue; this image was then super-imposed on footage shot while driving around Chicago. This informative and engaging book, designed by Zobernig, serves as a valuable pictorial document, and an insightful critical analysis of this important work. Walker’s essay speaks to the challenge Zobernig’s art poses for art history and the implications of that challenge for the future of art. In addition, the catalog features a transcript of the panel discussion: Planned Obsolescence, in which a group of critics, curators and architectural historians gathered to discuss how Zobernig’s practice differs from, or further informs, practices that have made an art out of calling for an end of art.

 

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