two men contemplating the moon 1830

Ugo Rondinone
September 16 – October 22, 2016

From left to right:

 

two men contemplating the moon 1830, 2015
fir trees in the snow 1828, 2016
morning mist in the mountains 1808, 2016
fog in the elbe valley 1821, 2016
All works: Cast aluminum
 
Each work in this series is named after a painting by the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich. Instead of diminishing the interiority of the spaces they hang in by allowing us to see outside, Rondinone’s metal windows reinforce a sense of isolation from the external world and provoke a palpable sense of enclosure.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

EAST 127 STREET + MADISON AVENUE, 2016 (corner)
Concrete
 

Bringing the structures of the urban street into a gallery setting, the Street Corners investigate the idea of place. The artist has taken more than a meter high concrete casts of the exterior corners of buildings on street intersections in Harlem in New York, close to where he lives and works today.

 
Windows from left to right:
 
abbey in the oakwood 1810, 2016
drifting clouds 1820, 2016
two men contemplating the moon  1830, 2015
All works: Cast aluminum
 
Each work in this series is named after a painting by the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich. Instead of diminishing the interiority of the spaces they hang in by allowing us to see outside, Rondinone’s metal windows reinforce a sense of isolation from the external world and provoke a palpable sense of enclosure.

  

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

two men contemplating the moon 1830, 2015
Cast aluminum
 
Each work in this series is named after a painting by the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich. Instead of diminishing the interiority of the spaces they hang in by allowing us to see outside, Rondinone’s metal windows reinforce a sense of isolation from the external world and provoke a palpable sense of enclosure.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

erstermärzzweitausendundsechzehn, 2016
Oil on burlap
 

Named in German after the date it was completed, the work is of profound simplicity. Using the universally recognised image of a brick wall, Ugo Rondinone has created a work that traverses the boundary between sculpture and painting, and that riffs inventively upon the role of place and space within daily life.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

two men contemplating the moon 1830

Ugo Rondinone
September 16 – October 22, 2016
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Esther Schipper is pleased to present two men contemplating the moon  1830, Ugo Rondinone’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery.

 

Taken from a painting by Caspar David Friedrich, the exhibition’s title makes manifest Rondinone’s long-standing indebtedness both to the iconography and philosophy of German Romanticism. “The German Romantic movement was the first to blur the line between reality and illusion. In this sense I’m very attached to the idea of art and art making as an environment that is itself outside of time and inaccessible to a linear logic.“ (The Brooklyn Rail, 2013)

 

Rondinone has modified the exhibition space to create a self-contained environment: new walls cover the existing windows. The works themselves index architectural barriers between outside and inside—a monumental new series of aluminum-cast windows, a large-scale brick-wall painting and a new series of concrete sculptures cast from the corners of urban buildings—collectively comprising the space of an inner world. 

 

Rondinone’s windows—a recurring motif in his work since the 1990s—play on the combination of the familiar and the strange. Rather than framing a view to the outside, they themselves become objects to be looked at. In the current exhibition, these new aluminum-cast windows are each titled after a specific Friedrich painting, and when the series is completed, will stand in for Friedrich’s complete oeuvre, 160 windows in total. Cast from weathered window frames in raw aluminum—chosen for its distant, ghost-like reflective effect—the windows range in style, size and patina.

 

Bringing the structures of the urban street into a gallery setting, Rondinone’s latest series of sculptures, Street Corners, investigates the idea of place. The first two sculptures of the series, on view in Berlin, are freestanding concrete casts of the exterior corners of buildings from two street intersections in the artist’s current neighborhood in Harlem, New York. Thick uneven stonework of East 126 Street + Madison Avenue (2016) evokes urban ecclesiastical structures, while the intricate carved stone of the nearby corner at East 127 Street + Madison Avenue (2016) suggests the ornate detailing of the iconic Harlem brownstone. Conjuring a fantastical sense of being in two different places simultaneously, Street Corners is a continuation of Rondinone’s ongoing explorations of the frontiers between illusion and reality.

 

A large-scale oil painting with a brightly colored yellow brick pattern creates the impression a new wall has been installed in the exhibition space. Creamy brushstrokes and heavy impasto form bricks; the brown color of the raw burlap doubles as ground and grout. Installed at one end of the room on a wooden frame about one meter from the existing wall, the painting’s exposed back shows the seams of roughly stitched-together patches of the raw material. The artist has noted several autobiographical references to his studios—his first studio had only one window that looked out onto a brick wall—while also remarking the occupations of his parents: his father was a bricklayer, his mother a seamstress.

 

Employing a vocabulary of iconic and/or everyday objects, Rondinone's works exact a level of contemplation and introspection that sometimes, as with the motif of the window, appears in apparent contrast to its manifest function: “Windows, doors, brick walls, light bulbs, trees, and masks are reoccurring symbols in my work. They are static metaphors in transition, which undermines the nature of time in terms of linear progression. They elaborate an idea not as progress through time but in terms of circularity, entropy, passivity, and dreaminess. A present tense, where time has stopped and opened out to reveal suggestiveness or changelessness or hollowness.” (The Brooklyn Rail, 2013).

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