Critics’ Picks

Liz Magor, Phoenix, 2013, wool, cotton, mica, plastic, 57  x 21 1/2 x 5''.

Liz Magor, Phoenix, 2013, wool, cotton, mica, plastic, 57 x 21 1/2 x 5''.


Liz Magor

Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain | Nice
Place Yves Klein
November 18, 2017–May 13, 2018

Liz Magor is extremely interested in the objects that we surround ourselves with, though this is neither because of their status as commodities nor because of their materials. What fascinates her is the physical and psychological relationships we establish with them––our emotional investment in objects and the aura they consequently assume.

To bring out this animism, Magor essentially resorts to two artistic strategies. On one hand, she juxtaposes real objects with finely detailed polymerized and colored plaster casts, creating a continuous and uncanny ambiguity between original and simulacrum, ready-made and sculpture. On the other hand, she considerably alters the objects or their reproductions, charging them with anthropomorphic connotations. Tweed (Kidney), 2008, for example, is a cast of a folded overcoat from which a (real) liquor bottle juts out, like an organ exposed: an unsettling hybrid that calls to mind Robert Gober.

However, some of the best works in this traveling retrospective (which spans from 1989 to the present, with Nice as the final stop) belong to a group that forms a category unto itself. These are secondhand blankets, complete with stains and burn marks, on which the artist makes small manual interventions, such as mendings and applications of pieces of fabric. Magor then has the blankets dry-cleaned, and she exhibits them still partially wrapped in the dry cleaner’s protective plastic coverings. They communicate the female ethics of daily care—of objects as well as bodies—but, above all, they exude a sense of precariousness and loss. And it is with this feeling, more than any other, that this exhibition of orphaned objects leaves the viewer.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.