Major Exhibition Guillermo Kuitca: Everything, Paintings and Works on Paper, 1980–2008 to Premiere in Western New York
January 20, 2010
Buffalo, NY – On February 19, 2010, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery will present a major exhibition that will trace the evolution of the work of Argentine artist Guillermo Kuitca through more than fifty paintings and twenty-five works on paper that span twenty-eight years of the artist’s career. Organized by Douglas Dreishpoon, Chief Curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the exhibition traces Kuitca’s investigations of physical and social systems, public and private arenas, emotional drama, and the poetic exploration of space.
Its opening in Western New York provides a rare opportunity for audiences in this region and in Canada to experience of the achievements of this extraordinary artist.
Born in Argentina in 1961, Kuitca began to garner international acclaim while still in his early twenties. Today, the artist commands an international status, and his works have been collected and exhibited by major art institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and Tate in Great Britain.
Conceived in the early and mid-1980s, the earliest works in the exhibition were inspired by Kuitca’s experiences in the theatre, with titles often drawn from plays, literature, and popular music. Works from this period are reminiscent of stage sets viewed from a distance, with tiny figures acting out mysterious and disturbing dramas. Themes of absence and disappearance emerge in subsequent works from the period, which depict overturned chairs, sullied beds that appear to be on fire, and a microphone on an empty stage.
Works from the late 1980s and early 1990s explore architecture and topography, as well as domestic and communal spaces. The floor plans of public institutions, geographical maps, and genealogical charts begin to serve as important references during this period. Though these works infer human interconnection and spaces that are normally occupied by large groups, the human figure remains notably absent.
Kuitca further explored organizational systems throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. In Neufert Suite, 1998, a series of paintings, and L’Encyclopédie, 2002, a series of works on paper, he refers to an architect’s handbook and the work of French philosopher Denis Diderot, who attempted to condense the whole of human knowledge into an encyclopedia. In his series of drawings entitled Global Order, 2002, Kuitca fuses a map of the world with building plans for domestic spaces, identifying borders and notions of “place” as the changing products of human invention.
Since the late 1990s, Kuitca has created both large and small-scale works on paper. The artist based a 2007 series on seating charts from renowned performance spaces such as the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. He selectively edits information from these charts in an electronic format before printing them. He further alters their appearance and meaning by subjecting them to different water treatments that alter the printed image. The resulting works are surreal abstractions whose pictorial elements have migrated across paper.
Visitors to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery will have their first opportunity to view 32 Seating Plans, 2007, a major suite of works on paper recently acquired by the Gallery for its Permanent Collection. A second major work from the Albright-Knox’s Permanent Collection, The Tablada Suite VI, 1992, a painting based on a prison plan, is also included in the exhibition.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a significant publication. Guillermo Kuitca, Everything, Paintings and Works on Paper, 1980–2008 is published by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and Miami Art Museum in association with Scala Publishers Ltd. and distributed by Distributed Art Publishers. The catalogue includes essays by Douglas Dreishpoon, Chief Curator, Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Andreas Huyssen, Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Columbia University; Terence Riley; and Olga Viso, Director, Walker Art Center. The book also features a series of interviews with the artist, recorded between 1997 and 2008; by noted Argentine author Graciela Speranza.
Guillermo Kuitca: Everything, Paintings and Works on Paper, 1980-2008 is organized by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; and Miami Art Museum, Florida. Major funding is provided by the Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation, AXA Art Insurance Corporation, and the Leadership and Honorary Patrons Committees for the exhibition, with additional catalogue support from Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. The exhibition is made possible in Western New York through the generous support of M&T Bank and the late Judge John T. Elfvin and Peggy Pierce Elfvin.
A special Members’ Preview of the exhibition will be held from 5–7 pm at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on Thursday, February 18, 2010. The exhibition will be on view until May 30, 2010.
The exhibition tour details are: Miami Art Museum (October 9, 2009–January 17, 2010); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (February 19–May 30, 2010); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (June 26–September 19, 2010); and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (October 21, 2010–January 9, 2011).