1 – 4 December 2016
L17, Miami Beach Convention Center
Miami Beach FL
At Art Basel Miami Beach 2016, Hauser & Wirth is pleased to present a showcase of works by American masters Louise Bourgeois, Arshile Gorky, Philip Guston, David Smith, and Cy Twombly. Through their paintings, sculptures, and drawings, the booth explores the exceptional forces, original visions, and aesthetic breakthroughs that have coalesced since the postwar era to change the course of modern art. Works by these late American masters will be complemented by works from Mark Bradford, Ellen Gallagher, Roni Horn, Lygia Pape, and Jack Whitten, among others.
The centerpiece of the Hauser & Wirth booth will be a group of exceptional works by American titan Arshile Gorky (1904 – 1948), known as ‘the father of Abstract Expressionism.’ The Armenian-born artist was a seminal figure in the evolution of modern art, channeling constant cycles of radical personal and artistic reinvention into a powerful and deeply influential visual language. A focal point of the works on view will be ‘The Opaque’ (1947), a painting Gorky created at the height of his powers: By the late 1940s, the artist’s personal lexicon of portmanteau shapes had fully matured, facilitating his split with Surrealism. By then he had expanded into large-scale canvases, working in a muscular fashion; and between his inclusion in a 1946 group show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Clement Greenberg‘s 1947 proclamation that the artist had created ‘some of the best modern painting ever painting ever turned out by an American,’ the artist was basking in appreciation. But ‘The Opaque,’ with its soft silver-gray tones and enigmatic layers, suggests a profound melancholy. Impenetrable as this work may at first appear, its masterfully executed palette and loose forms capture the vibrating state of the world in the late 1940s – and convey a universe on the edge of entropy and inexorable melt.
‘The Opaque’ will be complemented by Gorky’s ‘Untitled’ (1945 – 1946), a richly colored and lyrically animated painting in ink wash on paper. A group of pencil and crayon drawings by the artist will also be on view.
Hauser & Wirth’s booth will also present ‘The Trauma Colors‘ (1999), by Louise Bourgeois, an ingenious relief work that expanded the possibilities of sculptural expression. The smooth surface of ‘The Trauma Colors‘ is punctured with crater-like apertures. Offering potential glimpses of what lies concealed beneath, these openings have been resealed with fine threads or obscured by the application of fabric. Bourgeois’ combination of soft lead with thread and pieces of fabric imbues the relief with both an air of vulnerability (the metal is pierced and hemmed-in) and a palpable tension in the compactness of its rectilinear pictorial space. ‘The Trauma Colors’ will be complemented by a group of late bronze sculptures created by Bourgeois between 2005 and 2007, along with her fabric collage ‘Untitled’ (2008).
Philip Guston‘s ‘Accord I,’ painted in 1962, is a work elegantly poised between abstraction and figuration – the opposing trends with which Guston so famously grappled in the early 1960s. Throughout the 1950s, in a series of celebrated shows at the Sidney Janis Gallery, the artist’s shimmering, large-scale Abstract Expressionist paintings received critical acclaim. As an influential member of The New York School, Guston was viewed a beacon on the horizon of contemporary art, particularly for such proponents of abstraction as Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still. But the artist began to chafe at the constraints pure abstraction placed upon his practice. Dark, ominous forms began to crowd his paintings in 1957 and 1958, coalescing into a new language of near-figuration that would consume his oeuvre over the next ten years before finally erupting into full-blown figuration. ‘Accord I’ captures Guston in an extraordinary moment of evolution.
David Smith’s ‘Untitled‘ (1959) is a powerfully charged work that exemplifies the complexity of the artist’s sculpture of the 1950s. Refusing to narrow the content, imagery, materials, or style of his work, Smith expands his aesthetic interests in multiple directions. Simultaneously whimsical and austere, organic and geometric, ‘Untitled’ makes reference to a vast repository of sources, from tribal art and classical antiquity, to the Surrealism. Employing industrial materials and such modern technologies as welding, Smith’s work challenged the boundaries of traditional sculpture, opening a dialogue between sculptural mass and open space, figuration and abstraction. At a time that saw Smith preoccupied with such diverse series as the ‘Tanktotems’ (1952 – 1960) and ‘Albanys’ (1959 – 1962), ‘Untitled’ stands apart as a very special statement, an expression of the artist’s tireless drive to explore as many avenues of creation as possible.
The first of a suite of drawings made between 1981 and 1982, ‘Silex Scintillans’ captures Cy Twombly’s jubilant reclamation of abstract expressionist gesture in the late 1970s and 1980s. Mirroring the paintings of this decade, ‘Silex Scintillans’ sees Twombly’s drawings explode with swathes of intense color that mimic the mythic energy of the paintings, delivered in powerfully soaring arcs and near liquid waves, like the reflection of the setting sun on the sea. In the summer of 1981 Twombly was working on new drawings and sculptures in a studio that he had rented in the seaside town of Formia, on the Gulf of Gaeta between Rome and Naples; inspired by this shift in location, Twombly’s work from this period reflects his Mediterranean surroundings. Indeed this defining moment in his life would lead him, in the years that followed, to Gaeta, the harbor town next to Formia, where he would paint some of the greatest works of his career.