san-francisco

David Ireland

Leah Levy Gallery

The paradigmatic “artist’s space” is a converted loft—large, white, monolithic. David Ireland’s “House” is different; it is a real house, an 1886 Victorian, the stuff of real estate speculation, transformed into an Arte Povera Frick, a folk art reliquary full of Ireland himself and his neo-Dada objects. The charm of this cult object derives from its mystery, its off-beat whimsy, its immaculate, funky presentation, which is emptied of the ordinariness of daily life.

Situated on a ghetto corner, the house has a battleship gray exterior, an implicit denial of the conventional gingerbread prettiness that defines the multicolored bourgeois Victorian. The grayness is an assertion of armored reticence, camouflage suited to a war zone. The foyer offers the first in a series of paradoxes: it is dark, bare, unfinished and yet highly contrived. Immediately poignant, it remains absolutely impersonal

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the April 1981 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.