View of “Ugo Rondinone,” 2015.

View of “Ugo Rondinone,” 2015.

Ugo Rondinone

Galerie Eva Presenhuber

View of “Ugo Rondinone,” 2015.

When Ugo Rondinone reluctantly gave his first public lecture in New York at the New School in 2013, it consisted of an extraordinarily literal walk-through of a retrospective exhibition that had been held at the Aargauer Kunsthaus in Switzerland three years before: “I pass the ten bistro tables of the cafeteria and go to the ticket counter that is on the far left of the lobby. To the right of the ticket counter is the entrance to the first of seven rooms of the ground floor. . . . The first room has three sculptures. A tree, an oversize lightbulb, and a low relief of my right hand. In the middle of the room stands a white olive tree.” And so on. Rondinone meticulously listed every single work, the series it was part of, its name, and the materials from which it was made. This is the language of a catalogue raisonné, the degree zero of art history.

The cumulative effect of this

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