August 20, 2015
An installation of large-scale paintings and sculptures by John Chamberlain, Helen Frankenthaler, Michael Heizer, Anselm Kiefer, and Frank Stella will be on view at the West 21st Street gallery from August 21–October 3, 2015.
John Chamberlain began to create distinctive metal sculptures from industrial detritus during the late 1950s. While freely experimenting with a range of inexpensive materials—from paper bags to Plexiglas, foam rubber, and aluminum foil—again and again he returned to metal car bumpers and hoods, which he dubbed “art supplies.” In works such as GOOSECAKEWALK (2009) and TASTEYLINGUS (2010), he crumpled, bent, twisted, painted, and welded steel to form deliberate gestures that evoke clusters of layered, three-dimensional brushstrokes.
By the mid-1960s, Helen Frankenthaler had established the polarity that would remain central to her work of the next forty years: painterly drawing versus shape-making and the creation of pictorial space. From the mid-1970s, shape and volume often dominate the canvas. In Giant Step (1975), a swath of earthy red brushstrokes inflected with areas of blue and yellow all but eclipses the light blue background.
Michael Heizer cultivates tons of materials, including dirt, rock, and steel, in his quest to create a “permanent American art.” Negative Wall Sculpture (1992–94) is a 5.7-ton boulder of granite and black diorite that has been edged into a rectangular cavity cut into the gallery wall, creating a tension between viewer, nature, and architecture. Hard-edge shaped canvases from the 1970s—so-called “displacement paintings”—demonstrate his early exploration of positive and negative forms, paralleling the immense geometries he achieves when moving earth.
Fusing art and literature, painting and sculpture, Anselm Kiefer engages the ancestral epics of life, death, and the cosmos to reinforce lessons of the past. In the densely layered painting Lichtfalle/Light Trap (1999), he labels stars with their NASA catalogue numbers and incorporates a steel hunting trap, a juxtaposition that may suggest the will of man to grasp the heavens even as he is trapped by fate. In San Loreto (2010), Kiefer conflates art and religion through the form of a winged artist’s palette: the title refers to a fourteenth century legend in which angels transported the former house of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph from Nazareth to San Loreto, Italy to protect it from Muslim invaders. Massive books made from lead, cardboard, terracotta earth, and dried sunflowers evoke the weight of forgotten history.
From 1985 to 1997, Frank Stella created more than 250 works inspired by Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick. The exuberant wall relief Midnight, Forecastle (D-22,2x) (1990) echoes the intertwining plot lines of the chapter of the same title. Shaped and painted metal panels intersect in a multitude of clashing colors and patterns. A central white form represents the elusive whale plunging into the overlapping waves.
The installation is on view at Gagosian Gallery West 21st Street, New York from August 21 through October 3, 2015.