Anselm Kiefer (German, born 1945)
Untitled (Secret Life of Plants), 2004
Mixed media on lead
39 1/2 x 53 1/2 x 53 1/2 inches (100.3 x 135.9 x 135.9 cm)
Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, photograph by Tom Loonan
This Sunday, October 5, 2014, Anselm Kiefer: Beyond Landscape will close. Having been on view for almost a year, this exhibition allowed for visitors to deeply engage with Kiefer’s works and immerse themselves in and respond to the artist and the themes he explores.
An avid reader, Kiefer often turned to the motif of the book in the creation of a variety of large-scale sculptural works, as with his 2004 work, Untitled (Secret Life of Plants). In these sculptures, the book becomes a vehicle in the hands of the artist to explore other themes, such as the power of words and one’s place in the universe. The book is both physically heavy (as it is made of lead) and metaphorically heavy with the weight of humanity’s knowledge. Books are the source of the world’s knowledge, but they also contain words written by humans and so can also be used as agents of propaganda and false truths.
As in Kiefer’s other works included in this exhibition, the artist uses landscape as a vehicle to address a variety of different themes. Here, the landscape is a celestial one, as the artist has drawn stars on the book’s pages along with connecting lines and NASA identification numbers. While looking at the stars, the viewer can contemplate his own place in the universe while simultaneously being reminded that as humans we play just a small role in the ever-expanding and unstable universe—a fact made evident by the less-than-stable pages of this lead book on which the universe is depicted.
David Batchelor (Scottish, born 1955)
Idiot Stick 16, 2005
Issues of color are a recurring theme in the work of Scottish artist David Batchelor. His works, such as Idiot Stick 16, 2005, in the Collection of the Albright-Knox, often use color as their primary theme and incorporate found objects. This sculpture uses plastic bottles to contain a variety of colorful neon. Objects that were once discarded as debris are repurposed in the hands of the artist as containers for an abundance of vibrant light.
An author as well as an artist, Batchelor examines color and its theories through an art historical lens rather than a scientific one, exploring what color means from an artistic perspective. Batchelor will give a talk discussing his vast body of work with a focus on its relation to the theme of color this Friday, October 3, 2014, during M&T FIRST FRIDAYS @ THE GALLERY and in partnership with the University at Buffalo’s Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender’s “Color and Gender” Fall Symposium. Learn More
David Batchelor (Scottish, born 1955). Idiot Stick 16, 2005. Plastic bottles and fluorescent lamp, 70 x 4 x 3 inches (177.8 x 10.2 x 7.6 cm). Gift of Howard and Leslie Zemsky, 2007. © 2005 David Batchelor
Recent Acquisition Highlights
Theaster Gates’s Civil Tapestry 5, 2012
Using the history of civil rights in America as one of his predominant themes, Theaster Gates has garnered renown as a maker of political and poetic objects and performances and has earned an international reputation as a skilled activist and a visionary catalyst for social change. Since 2013, he has directly approached this subject in a series of objects and paintings fashioned from decommissioned fire hoses, like Civil Tapestry 5, that communicate in the familiar language of a Minimalist painting. His practice of incorporating disused segments of fire hose references the long tradition of artists from Kurt Schwitters (German, 1887–1948) to Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925–2008), who reclaimed trash to steep their own assemblages in historical references. Learn More
Theaster Gates (American, born 1973). Civil Tapestry 5, 2012. Decommissioned fire hoses on oil cloth mounted on wood panel, 58 x 208 x 4 inches (147.3 x 528.3 x 10.2 cm). Bequest of Arthur B. Michael, by exchange, 2014. © 2012 Theaster Gates. Photograph by Ben Westoby, courtesy White Cube.