January 22, 2010

California minimalism at the David Zwirner gallery

Yesterday I visited the David Zwirner gallery for its survey of minimalist works, Primary Atmospheres: Works rom California 1960-1970. From the press release, the show presents a

. . . survey of the particular kind of minimal work that was made in and around Los Angeles, work which differentiated itself in its emphasis on surface, synthetic materials, industrial processes, and perception. Often referred to under the umbrella term "Light and Space," the artists and artwork included in this exhibition will present a more inclusive overview of the ground-breaking and diverse art practices that flourished in California in the 1960s. The exhibition includes rarely seen works by Peter Alexander, Larry Bell, Laddie John Dill, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, John McCracken, Helen Pashgian, James Turrell, De Wain Valentine, and Doug Wheeler.

Of work collected for the exhibition, my favorites by far were the two by James Turrell, Juke Green and Gard Red.

Upon entering the spaces in which Turrell's works are installed, the pieces looked as if they were fashioned from plastic. I wondered how he made something so tangible so seemingly intangible until I broke the plane of light that had been projected into the corner. I then was amazed that he had actually made the intangible tangible. In many ways, Rothko's paintings and Anish Kapoor's Memory (currently installed at the Guggenheim) affect me similarly, as the work plays with the perception of depth and surface.

Turrell is one of my favorite artists, and I long to have the opportunity to visit the Roden Crater. The Wikipedia page on the artwork claims that Turrell plans to unveil it to the public in 2011. If anyone has any insight on the possibility of visiting it earlier, please let me know.

For fans of Dan Flavin, alternating pink and "gold" is installed in a large gallery space next door to the gallery. Their site states that the installation was supposed to be only through 19 December 2009. I'm uncertain how much longer it'll be on view. Primary Atmospheres will be on view until 6 February 2010.

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