philadelphia

Polly Apfelbaum

Institute of Contemporary Art/University of Pennsylvania

This refreshingly selective and well-installed survey of the work of Polly Apfelbaum focuses on fourteen sculptural pieces and installations created between 1989 and 2003. A Pocket Full of Posies, 1990, is the first to articulate the stakes of her artistic practice. Composed of unpainted steel plates cut into simple floral shapes and arranged in a circle on the ground, the piece recalls Carl Andre’s floor sculptures, while its floral subject matter could be said to introduce a “feminine” sensibility. A Pocket was soon followed by more floor pieces, now made of fabric dyed in effusive hues. If some have claimed that Apfelbaum’s work represents the “feminizing of Minimalism,” in this grouping that view appeared reductive and limiting; for these pieces unleashed a destabilizing force that upset secure notions of gender or medium and proposed an uneasy and considerably more compelling hybridity.

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