MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street
March 15 - September 2
The artists in “Abstract Generation” update Minimalism’s depersonalized geometry by emphasizing the hand of the artist and playfully engaging with the technology of printmaking. In Ryan Gander’s I’ve Got the Money If You’ve Got the Time, 2011, eighteen lithographs form a block of white pages framed by thick black lines. The black frames are prints of duct tape that the artist had laboriously mounted onto the walls of his studio, revealing the imperfections of the tape while invoking the logic of the grid. Wade Guyton also riffs on the vocabulary of Minimalism by producing an ink-jet print on a plywood surface. The result is a sculptural monochrome that is the size of a freestanding door, yet it remains a print. By printing directly onto plywood, Guyton reverses the woodcut technique and eliminates any direct intervention of the artist into the work. Conversely, Charline von Heyl foregrounds the artist’s hand in her experimental monoprints. She uses a range of print practices to produce explosive, graffiti-like scribbles comprised of fragments of lines and bursts of color. Cory Arcangel similarly showcases print’s potential messiness in a series of deliberately low-tech screenprints, whose misaligned planes of red, yellow, and blue pixelated dots are printed onto paper watermarked with his name.
These self-conscious references to print technology are indebted to the work of artists like John Armleder, who alludes to the history of print in a series, on view here, made from typographic plates. Devoid of the letters they are meant to hold in place, these plates produce geometric lines and squares that give way to abstract patterns, transforming page layouts into design elements. Other artists access printmaking through the form of the book, as in Tauba Auerbach’s carefully crafted paper sculptures. Thematizing the tension between flatness and three-dimensionality through the pop-up book technique, Auerbach’s Ziggurat from the series “[2,3],” 2011, opens to form a tower of interlaced green and white paper, demonstrating how print can deploy both high and low technology to expand the language of abstraction.