Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dan Graham: Beyond. Retrospective at the Whitney

About the Exhibition

On view June 25-October 11, 2009

Dan Graham: Beyond surveys the artist's career from the mid-1960s to the present. As one of contemporary art's most innovative and influential figures, Dan Graham has been at the forefront of many of the most significant developments in art, including conceptual art, video and film installation, performance, site-specific sculpture, and musical collaboration. This exhibition—his first retrospective in the United States—examines each stage of Graham's career through his photographs, projects for magazine pages, films, architectural models and pavilions, performances, video installations, prints, drawings, writings, and his work with musicians Sonic Youth, Glenn Branca, and Japanther.

Graham was born in Urbana, Illinois, in 1942 and grew up in New Jersey, a suburban landscape that would inspire him throughout his career. He began his career as a writer, and founded and directed the short-lived John Daniels Gallery in New York in 1964, exhibiting the work of a new generation of conceptual and Minimalist artists—including Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Robert Smithson. This experience had a deep influence on Graham's subsequent work, particularly the artist's relationship to his peers and to the culture at large as well as his interest in art’s economic and social framework.

Graham's rejection of the high-seriousness of modern art emerged at the same moment as Pop art in the early 1960s. "I love magazines because they are like pop songs," he once explained about his early conceptual magazine works, "easily disposable, dealing with momentary pleasures." He infused his approach with a wide range of literary, anthropological, and scientific influences, from cybernetics and topology to the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre, Gregory Bateson, and Margaret Mead. Graham's performances of the 1970s and his architectural pavilions of the 1980s to the present, with their kaleidoscopic refraction of bodily experience, demonstrate his interest in revealing the private self as part of a social, public context.

The fluid, democratic quality of Graham's work continues to exert a powerful influence on younger generations of artists. His desire for a connection to others mirrors our own; yet his work offers a way to critically explore that desire at a moment when interconnectivity and instant feedback are conditioning our collective consciousness to an unprecedented, global degree.

Exhibition Catalogue

Dan Graham: Beyond
Editors: Bennett Simpson and Chrissie Iles.

Essays by Rhea Anastas, Beatriz Colomina, Mark Francis, Dan Graham, Chrissie Iles, Alexandra Midal, Bennett Simpson, Mark von Schlegell, and Philippe Vergne. Interviews with Dan Graham by Kim Gordon, Rodney Graham, and Nicolás Guagnini.

Dan Graham has always pointed beyond in his work: beyond the art object, beyond the studio, beyond the medium, beyond the gallery, beyond the self. Beyond all these categories and into the realm of the social, the public, the democratic, the mass produced, the architectural, the anarchic, and the humorous. This volume, which accompanies a retrospective organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, offers the first comprehensive survey of Graham's work. The book's design evokes magazine format and style, after Graham's important conceptual work from the 1960s in that medium. Generously illustrated in color and black and white, Dan Graham: Beyond features eight new essays, two new interviews with the artist, a section of reprints of Graham's own writing, and an animated manga-style "life of Dan Graham" narrative. It examines Graham's entire body of work, which includes designs for magazine pages, drawing, photographs, film and video, and architectural models and pavilions. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and MIT Press, 2009. 384 pages.

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