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 IFA’s academic home and community.
Fall 2016: Martha Friedman
October 19, 2016
Opening and panel discussion featuring Nancy Worman
On the evening of October 19, 2016, the Institute of Fine Arts will unveil an exhibition featuring the work of sculptor Martha Friedman. Friedman, in fact, is creating a multi-faceted site-specific installation that responds to the sixteenth-century Flemish tapestry hanging in the grand staircase of the Great Hall. This woven marvel depicts Odysseus brandishing his sword above the sorceress Circe who, with help from her spell book, has turned many of his men into boars. For Friedman, this tapestry is a powerful representation of contemporary relationships between history, knowledge, gender, and womanhood. She will explore these themes through sculptures that contrast hard and soft materials, rigid and pliable surfaces, abstract and figural subject matter. Part installation, part performance art, her pieces exploit viewers’ unconscious urges, luring them into an elaborate ritual of seeing and touching, a ritual that provides a profound pathway to explore public and private constructions of identity.
In honor of the exhibition’s opening, the Institute will host a panel discussion to unfold the ways in which Friedman’s work responds to and dialogues with the Circe tapestry. Panelists, who will hail from a variety of disciplines, will draw from their own areas of expertise, reaching through layers of time to interpret the relationship between contemporary and Renaissance art, classical Greek literature and gender, and the anti objectification of the female body in art, literature, culture, and society. This panel promises to be a rich and enriching conversation about the precedents set by and legacy left by the mediums, materials, and messages common amongst the artworks in question.
November 16, 2016
Performance by Susan Marshall & Company followed by a panel discussion
The lauded Susan Marshall & Company will perform the world premiere of the their newest dance piece Two Person Operating System, an activation of Martha Friedman's work featured in the 2016 Fall Great Hall Exhibition. The sculpture and dance grew out of a collaborative concept developed by Friedman and choreographer Susan Marshall. The creation of this work is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. An upright metal grid of cut steel pipe bisects a metal table. On either side of the porous sheet, steel rods— sharpened to a spike— are prepared in rows. Long, fleshy, rubber tubes in various colors are attached to the underside of the table, unleashed in a floppy mess. Two dancers approach the table and begin a series of methodical tasks with workerly precision. The spikes are pushed into the holes, audibly clinking against the metal, and altering the patterns created by the grid. Like system operators, the dancers pay careful attention to speed, force, and precision, yet there is inherent suspense in the danger of the materials. The rubber tubes require lubrication for proper insertion, as they resist the mechanical nature of the grid. The tasks repeat and evolve as the dancers continue to introduce variation to their automated performance. Two new dancers enter and the tasks begin again. The threshold between the surface of the steel and the interior of the body is broached in ways that highlight the opposing quality of the materials. The gestures in the dance emerge from the female operators of the 1920s, who, through intricate patterns were the link in all technological connection of the era. The audience's roving position increasingly confuses the split between violence and intimacy, work without product, connection and severing, penetration and expulsion, soft and hard.
December 1, 2016
Concert featuring C. Spencer Yeh followed by a panel discussion
Innovative artist and musician C. Spencer Yeh will premier a new piece of music based on Milton Babbit's groundbreaking electronic masterpiece, Philomel. Vocalist Liz Pearce will also perform Babbit's original piece. Both works draw inspiration from the myth of Philomel, who famously wove a tapestry to betray the identity of her rapist. This concert is one of a series of programs related to the Institute of Fine Art's Fall 2016 Great Hall Exhibition, which will feature the work of artist Martha Friedman.
A large tapestry depicting the Circe myth, which hangs over a majestic, sweeping staircase at the back of the great serves as the center from which my various sculptures, performance collaborations, and panels will spiral. The tapestry, a gently fading 16th century Flemish weaving, captures the moment when Odysseus confronts Circe, the goddess of magic, who has metamorphosed Odysseus’ crew into a herd of swine. In this portrayal, Odysseus hulks over Circe, threatening her with his sword as she seductively turns her body and face toward him, while her left hand fingers a book of spells, and her right hand surreptitiously sneaks a book under a velvety table covering. Historically, Circe was known to toil away at her loom and to use a wand as her instrument of sorcery, however, in this version, she seems linked to books (the written word) and knowledge as the source of her cunning magic, possibly, read from a feminist perspective, suggesting that the artist behind the weaving intimated at a devilish femininity that is trying to steal/castrate man and his knowledge.
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 IFA PhD student Julia Pelta Feldman, and was accompanied by a dialogue and day-long symposium featuring the artist.
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
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 .
The exhibition is organized by Rachel Heidenry with assistance from Eloise Maxwell.
Spring 2015: Felix Gonzalez-Torres
March 30, 2015 - May 1, 2015
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.
Fall 2014: Marta Chilindron
November 3, 2014 to December 5, 2014
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.
Spring 2014: Rachel Harrison
Who Gave You This Number?
April 27, 2014 to May 11, 2014
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.
September 15, 2013 to October 20, 2013
One 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.