| On Display

The Great Hall Exhibitions

There are two Great Hall Exhibitions per year showcasing prominent contemporary artists. Taking place in the fall and spring semesters, the expansive great hall of the Duke House, a historic landmark building, provides an impressive setting for displaying seminal contemporary art in the center of the Institute’s academic home and community.

Fall 2016:
Martha Friedman, Some Hags

October 19, 2016 - December 3, 2016
Preview: Wednesday 19 October 2016, 6:00-9:00pm

The Institute of Fine Arts New York University is proud to announce the unveiling of Some Hags, an exhibition featuring a new body of work by sculptor Martha Friedman. For this exhibition Friedman has orchestrated a site-specific installation that responds to the sixteenth-century Flemish tapestry hanging in the building’s grand staircase.  Her response takes the form of three metal and rubber sculptures that allude to the female body in various states of use, and are a reflection of her ongoing exploration of industrial objects, modernity, and the female body. Said Friedman, “The tapestry depicts a scene from The Odyssey where Odysseus uses a sword to threaten the sorceress Circe, who has just used her magic book to turn his men into boars. I'm intrigued by how contemporary this five-hundred-year-old weaving feels in the way it tackles issues of gender and power." The show’s title, Some Hags, refers not only to the three bodies that will occupy the hall, but also critiques the perception of forceful women throughout history.

Friedman, Brooklyn-based artist who is also an assistant professor of sculpture at Princeton University, collaborated with the writer Jeff Dolven, and Institute students Sarah Mallory, Blanca Serrano Ortiz de Solórzano, Adam Dunlavy, and Connor Hamm, to produce a series of innovative programs to accompany the exhibition. On November 16th, Susan Marshall & Company will perform the world premiere of their newest dance piece Two Person Operating System, which will activate one of the sculptures featured in the exhibition. This work, which grew out of a collaborative concept developed by Friedman and Marshall, is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.  On December 1, a concert in the Great Hall will feature sound artist C. Spencer Yeh debuting an original sound score in response to electronic music pioneer Milton Babbit’s Homer-influenced composition, Philomel.  The exhibition’s opening will include a panel discussion about the works on display; NYU professor Thomas Crow, the Institute's Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art and Associate Provost for the Arts at New York University, will moderate. The exhibition and associated programming is sponsored by The Barnard Center for Research on Women, Princeton University, and Valeria Napoleone. 

Public Programming

October 19 - Opening (6:00pm) and panel discussion moderated by Prof. Thomas Crow (7:30pm)
The Institute will host a panel discussion to unfold the ways in which Friedman’s work responds to and dialogues with the Circe tapestry.  The esteemed panelists, Dr. Nancy Worman, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Classics at Barnard College, Columbia University, and Dr. Jamieson Webster, author and analyst, will each draw from their own area of expertise to contemplate the various renderings of the female figure through history, ranging from classical Greek literature through the Renaissance and ending with contemporary portrayals.

November 16 - Performance by Susan Marshall & Company (6:00pm) followed by a panel discussion (7:00pm)
Susan Marshall & Company will perform the world premiere of the their newest dance piece, Two Person Operating System.  The work activates one of Martha Friedman's sculptures featured in the 2016 Fall Great Hall Exhibition.  The dancers pay careful attention to speed, force, and precision, while navigating dangerously sharp edges in Friedman's creation. The sculpture and dance, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, grew out of a collaborative concept developed by Friedman and choreographer Susan Marshall. After the performance, Friedman and Marshall will hold an open conversation with Dr. Brooke Holmes, Professor of Classics at Princeton University, and Dr. Tina Campt, Professor of Africana and Women's Gender and Studies at Barnard Collage.

Susan Marshall & Company's Two Person Operating System will be performed again on November 19 from 1:00pm to 5:00pm at the Institute.

December 1 - Concert featuring C. Spencer Yeh (6:00pm) followed by a panel discussion (7:00 pm)
Innovative artist and musician C. Spencer Yeh will premiere a new piece of music based on Milton Babbit’s groundbreaking electronic masterpiece, Philomel, and vocalist Liz Pearce will perform Babbit’s original. Both works draw inspiration from the Ovidian story of Philomel and the tapestry she wove, after being raped by King Tereus, to reveal her rapist’s identity. After the performances, Yeh and Pearce will discuss the works with R. Luke Dubois, composer and director of the Brooklyn Experimental Media Center at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and Jeff Dolven, poet and professor of English at Princeton University.

Artist’s Bio

Martha Friedman was born in Detroit, MI and lives and works in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She earned her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998 and her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2003. She has had solo exhibitions at Wallspace, New York (2012, 2009, 2007); the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, MI (2010); DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA (2010); Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago, IL (2010). Her work has been shown in numerous group exhibitions, nationally and internationally. Select examples include Frieze New York Sculpture Park, curated by Tom Eccles, New York (2013) and Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem, Israel (2013). Friedman is Assistant Professor of Sculpture at Princeton University. Friedman has an upcoming solo exhibition at the Henry Museum in 2018.

Exhibition Archive

Spring 2016: Charles Simonds

April 1, 2016 - May 13, 2016

The Institute of Fine Arts continued its ongoing Great Hall Exhibition Series by showcasing sculptor Charles Simonds’s Mental Earth in the Great Hall. The exhibit was organized by Institute of Fine Arts PhD student Julia Pelta Feldman, and was accompanied by a dialogue and day-long symposium featuring the artist

Walead Beshty

A sculptor with roots in New York City’s downtown scene, Simonds first gained renown as an artist in the 1970s for his Dwellings, miniature villages in unfired clay constructed in the streets of SoHo and the Lower East Side and conceived as homes to an imaginary civilization that Simonds called “the Little People.” He created over 200 Dwellings, which usually disappeared days or weeks after their meticulous making. He has also exhibited freestanding sculptures and installations at various institutional spaces, including the Whitney Museum, the Paris and Venice Biennials, Documenta 6, and the Museum of Modern Art. He has been the subject of retrospective exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, the Galerie Nationale de Jeu de Paume, and the Institut Valencia d’Art Moderne, among other museums. 

"Created in 2003, Mental Earth is a hanging sculpture in which a vibrant arabesque of earthy clay forms – resembling at once landscape, cloud, and man-made structure – floats in the air, detached from the terrestrial and architectural context of Simonds's early work in the streets," said Feldman, who also organized the upcoming all-day symposium on Simonds. "It is the opposite of site-specific in that it is able to create a new site for itself wherever it is exhibited. But despite this dramatic change from the artist's earlier work, Mental Earth represents powerful continuity with his entire oeuvre: it posits land, architecture, and the human body as a unified, living, and growing form."

The IFA is deeply grateful for the generous support of the following donors to the Simonds Great Hall Exhibition and programming: The Agnes Gund Foundation; the Elizabeth A. Sackler Museum Educational Trust; Caroline Cummings Rafferty; and the Cummings Rafferty Family Fund of the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties.

Fall 2015: Walead Beshty

November 11, 2015 - December 4, 2015

Walead Beshty

Walead Beshty
Samsung UN75H6350 75-Inch 120Hz Smart LED TV
Samsung UN75H6350 75-Inch 120Hz Smart LED TV
66 x 38 1/4 inches (167.64 x 97.16 cm)

The Institute of Fine Arts showed the work of artist and writer Walead Beshty in the Fall of 2015. The show brought together works on paper and sculptural pieces by the artist.

The exhibition was accompanied by a series of public events.  A public opening reception took place on Wednesday, November 11, 2015. The following evening, Thursday, November 12, Beshty discussed his work and writings during a public conversation with art historian and curator, Johanna Burton. Finally, on Friday, December 4, the Institute hosted a panel discussion featuring art historians and critics in dialogue. The panel took Beshty's latest publication Ethics (Whitechapel Gallery / MIT Press, 2015) as a starting point to discuss the aesthetics of distribution and methodology of art history today. 

Walead Beshty (b. 1976, London, UK) is an artist, writer and Associate Professor in the Graduate Art Department at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. His work was included in the 56th Biennale di Venezia (2015), the Shanghai Biennial (2012), the Tate Triennial (2009), and Whitney Biennial (2008). Beshty’s work is held in numerous permanent museum collections, including the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Tate Modern, London, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Monographs on his work include, Walead Beshty: Selected Correspondences 2001–2010 (Damiani Editore, 2010), and Walead Beshty: Natural Histories (JRP|Ringier, 2011/2014). Beshty’s writing has appeared in Texte zur Kunst, Afterall Journal, Artforum, Aperture, Art Review, Parkett, Dot Dot Dot, and The Exhibitionist, in addition to several exhibition catalogues and anthologies. Beshty was guest editor of Blind Spot Magazine, No. 46, edited the anthology Ethics, in Whitechapel’s Documents of Contemporary Art series (MIT Press 2015), and his collected writings will be published in the Fall of 2015 by JRP|Ringier. He is represented by Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Petzel, New York; Thomas Dane Gallery, London; Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels; and Capitain Petzel, Berlin. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Walead Beshty's full bio is can be viewed here Open PDF in new window.

The exhibition is organized by Rachel Heidenry with assistance from Eloise Maxwell.

Support for this exhibition was graciously provided by an anonymous donor. Institutional support has been generously provided by Petzel Gallery, New York and Regen Projects, Los Angeles.

Spring 2015: Felix Gonzalez-Torres

March 30, 2015 - May 1, 2015

Felix Gonzalez-Torres

An installation of two artworks by Felix Gonzalez-Torres was featured as part of the Great Hall Exhibitions series at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Organized by Katharine J. Wright and Susanna V. Temkin, this installation paired two works encompassing different media and conceptual practices that speak to major themes in the artist's oeuvre. The manifestable candy piece "Untitled (Placebo-Landscape-for Roni)", 1993 and the static photographic work "Untitled" (Natural History), 1990 offer a point of access into overarching strategies that the artist employed throughout the course of his career. The two works were on view daily, 1:00 to 4:00 PM, from March 30 - May 1, 2015.

This installation was made possible by the generous support of Eileen and Michael Cohen

Image credit: "Untitled" (Natural History), 1990. © The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation. Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

Fall 2014: Marta Chilindron

November 3, 2014 to December 5, 2014

Lynda Benglis

Embracing the instability of perspective and form, New York artist Marta Chilindron (b. 1951, Buenos Aires) creates manipulable sculptures in transparent and colored acrylics.  Adapted from such basic geometric shapes as spheres, cubes, and pyramids, her artworks conceal their identity as complex, kinetic constructions.  Constructed from multiple panels connected by hinges, Chilindron’s sculptures are charged with transformative potential that, when activated by the viewer, cause the works to expand//fold//collapse.

An heir to international constructivism, Chilindron's artworks recall the influence of such artists as Naum Gabo, Lygia Clark, and Donald Judd.  However, to this tradition Chilindron adds her own investigations based on her interest in the dynamism and mutability of life.  Controlled by the viewer yet mediated by their constructed forms, her artworks transform shape, shift from the second to the third dimension, and extend and contract into space.  Magnified by the chromatic interplay caused by the effects of light, these changes underlie the core of her artistic practice.

Providing a dramatic contrast to the ornate interior of the Duke House, seven works by the artist was on view in the lobby and vestibule of the Institute of Fine Arts  for the Fall 2014 Great Hall Exhibition.  Focusing on Chilindron’s engagement with idealized geometric forms, these works, executed between 2006 and 2014, showed the diversity of the artist’s practice, ranging from table-top objects such as the curvilinear Helix (2011) to her large-scale Cube 48 Orange (2014).  This latter work represents Chilindron’s expansion into immersive sculptural environments, and was shown in New York for the first time since its debut in the Encounters exhibition at Art Basel Hong Kong, held in spring 2014.

For more information about Marta Chilindron and the exhibition, EXPAND//FOLD//COLLAPSE, please read the exhibition e-catalogue, co-written by PhD candidates Susanna V. Temkin and Katharine J. Wright. The interactive e-catalogue features a curatorial essay, a selected chronology, an exhibition checklist and numerous illustrations of Chilindron’s work.

The works on view for the Fall 2014 Great Hall Exhibition were courtesy of the artist and the gallery, Cecilia de Torres, Ltd.

Image credit: Marta Chilindron, Mobius, 2013, Acrylic and hinges, Variable dimensions (36 x 80 x 80 in; 91.4 x 203.2 x 203.2), Photograph by Arturo Sanchez, Courtesy of Cecilia de Torres, Ltd.

Spring 2014: Rachel Harrison

Who Gave You This Number?
April 27, 2014 to May 11, 2014

Rachel Harrison

Rachel Harrison lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include CCS Bard/Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson (2009); Portikus, Frankfurt (2009); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010); Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2013); and S.M.A.K., Ghent (2013). Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam among many others.

The works on view for the spring 2014 Great Hall Exhibition were courtesy of the Artist and Greene Naftali, New York. This exhibition was made possible by the lead support received from Rachel Goodman Wilf and additional support from Linda Nochlin.


Image credit: Rachel Harrison, Party Line, 2014, Wood, polystyrene, cement, acrylic, telephone, telephone directory, and string, 82 3/4 x 28 x 24 inches (210.2 x 71.1 x 61 cm). Courtesy of the Artist and Greene Naftali, New York

Fall 2013: Lynda Benglis

September 15, 2013 to October 20, 2013

Lynda BenglisOne of the foundational figures in twentieth-century feminist art, Lynda Benglis has been creating works that explore the ways in which the body, in both its physical and cultural extensions and constraints, interacts with the world around it. Benglis first received international attention in the late 1960s for a series of works in which she poured brightly colored bands of liquid polyurethane foam and pigmented latex directly on the gallery floor. With their unconventional palette and materials and their ambiguous identity between painting and sculpture, these works initiated Benglis’s career-long project of questioning and expanding the boundaries of artistic media, materials, and form. Her works’ radical aesthetic innovation coupled with their overt critique of dominant modes of artistic practice—from modernist painting to minimalist sculpture—suggest alternative ways of seeing and being unburdened from the repressive verities and traditions of the past. This motivating dichotomy of Benglis’s art is perhaps most evident in her consistent engagement with the ostensibly antagonistic processes of creative amalgamation and material degradation, figured through the works’ invocation of melting, dripping, and deformation. This ruin-like aspect of many of Benglis’s works reveals currents of classicism and romanticism running through her oeuvre, albeit deeply informed by feminist critiques of historical continuity and expressive individualism. As such the Institute of Fine Arts provides an ideal intellectual and architectural milieu in which to examine the complex interplay between innovation and tradition that motivates a great deal of Benglis’s art.  On view at the IFA will be four artworks, two of which are seminal “pours” from the late 1960s.

This inaugural Great Hall Exhibition was organized by Professor Robert Slifkin and PhD candidate Jeffrey Uslip.

Image credit: Lynda Benglis, Night Sherbet A, 1968. Courtesy Cheim and Reid, New York.

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