• Dan Graham, Performer/Audience/Mirror, 1977. Performance view, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, 1977.

    Dan Graham

    MOCA Geffen Contemporary
    152 North Central Avenue
    February 15–May 25, 2009

    Walker Art Center
    725 Vineland Place
    November 1, 2009–January 15, 2010

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    June 25–October 11, 2009

    Curated by Chrissie Iles and Bennett Simpson

    Since 1965, when he began producing the diagrams and photo-text magazine pieces that would become landmarks of Conceptual art, Dan Graham has made a series of swerves in his practice through video and film and performance to the architectural pavilions of the 1980s and beyond. This body of work—along with his early stint as a gallerist showing art by friends such as Carl Andre and Robert Smithson, and his energetic activities as a critic and speaker—has earned him near-legendary status. Artists today find a potent model in Graham’s integration of the conditions of exhibition and media reception into his own work; in his shape-shifting modus operandi; in his omnivorous cultural appetites. (His long-standing obsession with rock ’n’ roll, for instance, has given rise to extensive writings and the videos Minor Threat, 1983, and Rock My Religion, 1984.) And yet, due to these very qualities, institutions have had difficulty assimilating and presenting his work: MoCA’s forty-year survey is his first retrospective in the United States. Following on the heels of “Lawrence Weiner: As Far as the Eye Can see” (co-organized by MoCA and the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2007), the show thus marks another watershed in the American reception of Conceptually oriented practitioners whose projects, initiated in the ’60s, have long been influential among artists even as they were sidelined for decades on the US museum circuit.

    Tracing the evolution of Graham’s practice, the exhibition aims to loosely unite the artist’s divergent production around “the changing relationship of individual to society as mirrored through American mass media and architecture at the end of the twentieth century,” per cocurators Chrissie Iles and Bennett Simpson. The show, comprising about one hundred works, will navigate vastly different kinds of visual and perceptual experiences, from the private space of the page to screen-based and time-based works to the emphatically public pavilions. The events program will include a panel on music and collaboration featuring Graham, Kim Gordon, and Thurston Moore, in addition to other talks and screenings. The catalogue, copublished with MIT Press, boasts essays by Rhea Anastas, Beatriz Colomina, Iles, and Simpson, among others, as well as two new interviews with Graham. The volume will be a substantial addition to the growing body of critical writing on the artist.

    The show has not been unaffected by MoCA’s very public financial crisis; in a last-minute change, the museum announced in November that the retrospective would be installed in MoCA’s main Grand Avenue space, as cost-cutting moves prompted the six-month (and perhaps indefinite) closure of the Geffen Contemporary. For decades, Graham’s work has reflected on the public and institutional vicissitudes of artmaking; coming at such a fraught moment, the exhibition attests to MoCA’s own near-legendary support of critical and challenging art projects.

  • Arlene Shechet, Good Ghost, 2007, glazed ceramic, steel, cast concrete, 66 x 24 x 22".

    “Dirt on Delight: Impulses That Form Clay”

    Walker Art Center
    725 Vineland Place
    July 11–November 29, 2009

    Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania
    University of Pennsylvania 118 South 36th Street
    January 16–June 21, 2009

    Curated by Ingrid Schaffner and Jenelle Porter

    Traditional Craft and medium-specific mastery meet the informe and neo-assemblage in “Dirt on Delight: Impulses That Form Clay.” A terrible name but a timely premise: The show promises to parse a current vogue for sculpture’s most basic material—and, if we’re lucky, to pose larger questions about what it means to make objects at all now that de-skilled eclecticism has become its own cliché. Twenty-two artists contribute more than seventy works scaled large and small. Innovative American potter George E. Ohr stakes out the historical horizon with pieces made at the tail end of the nineteenth century, while bad boy Lucio Fontana marks the turf for Conceptualists who like to get their hands dirty.

  • Harold Edgerton, Atomic Bomb ca. 1952 (Joshua Trees), 1952, gelatin silver print, 11 x 14".

    “The Quick and the Dead”

    Walker Art Center
    725 Vineland Place
    April 25–September 27, 2009

    Curated by Peter Eleey

    Central to the modernist project has been a methodical questioning of our basic assumptions about the nature of the universe, which this show positions specifically in relation to contemporaneous scientific research on phenomena such as the big bang and black holes. In turn, fundamental existential and metaphysical questions—What is space? What is time?—are reposed by artists and philosophers alike, opening up radically new perspectives on knowledge and experience. Unusual in its historical breadth, with more than eighty works from 1933 to the present, the show is accompanied by an equally expansive catalogue: Diverse contributors include curator Peter Eleey, philosophers Peter Osborne and Ina Blom, and neurologist Olaf Blanke.