An open-ended look at contemporary art – both inside the Walker and out – as framed by our Visual Arts curators.
The Walker now holds three large reflective works by Michelangelo Pistoletto, thanks to the recent gift from John and Sage Cowles of Man on a Balcony (1965), which is currently on view in 75 Gifts for 75 Years. The other works are Three Girls on a Balcony (1962–1964, on view in International Pop) and Seated Woman (1963). All three pieces entered the Walker’s collection separately over several decades, but they were all together years ago—during the 1996 Walker-organized one-man show Michelangelo Pistoletto: A Reflected World, the artist’s first exhibition in North America.
The young Italian artist captured the attention of Walker Director Martin Friedman in the mid-1960s. It was around the time Pistoletto began working on his reflective paintings and in March 1964, Ileana Sonnabend Gallery, Paris presented an exhibition of his new paintings. At the same time, Ettore Sottsass Jr. wrote an article on Pistolettos’s work for Domus (published in 1964, it was entitled “Pop e non Pop, a propsoito di Michelangelo Pistoletto”). The Walker assembled 30 of these new paintings for the spring of 1966.
Pistoletto made the paintings from tissue paper on stainless steel. The life-size figures float in the shiny reflected surface of the steel that captures the world outside of the painting. As one looks at the paintings it produces the affect of gazing into the space with the figures. The spectator and all he sees becomes part of the canvas. Many of the paintings are seen in mundane poses like Seated Woman. Some, like Three Girls on On A Balcony and Man on a Balcony, are seen from behind and one is left to wonder what they, or you, are gazing at. The paintings are very contemplative, as Pistoletto explained, “The world that surrounds me is really the inner world. … Everything is within me just as everything within the figures I paint is an interior reality.”
The Walker’s 1966 presentation also included an element of fun, as WCCO-TV’s footage demonstrates, showing Public Relations Director Peter Georgas and the news crew on a tour through the galleries.
At the close of the show in May 1966 several of Pistoletto’s works remained in Minneapolis including the three now reunited in the Walker’s collection. Although Pistoletto could not attend the Minneapolis show he was quite pleased with the result. He wrote to Martin Friedman, “I feel quite pleased to have a personal exhibition at Walker Art Center and I am specially proud of your personal interest.”
On view through May 27 as a part of Lifelike, the 1,500-pound Hefty 2-Ply made quite a splash when it first landed at the Walker in 1981. The Walker commissioned Jud Nelson in 1979 to make a piece for its permanent collection; it took nearly two years to carve it from marble. Known for his depictions of everyday […]
On view through May 27 as a part of Lifelike, the 1,500-pound Hefty 2-Ply made quite a splash when it first landed at the Walker in 1981.
The Walker commissioned Jud Nelson in 1979 to make a piece for its permanent collection; it took nearly two years to carve it from marble. Known for his depictions of everyday items — Shirts IV: Van Heusen and Chair are also part of the Walker collection — the artist opted to make a garbage bag bursting with familiar throwaways from the latter half of the 20th century.
He started by roughing out its form from Italian Carrera marble, using a hammer and chisel, then refined the piece with rotary grinders and finished the details with dental drills fitted with diamond bits. Several items, including products from Coca-Cola, General Electric, and Kitty Klean, date the sculpture to a distinct period and are all identifiable — by the artist, at least — within its bulges and wrinkles.
Nelson, an alumnus of Bethel College and the University of Minnesota, was on hand to install Hefty 2-Ply in Gallery 7 (now the Medtronic Gallery), and the sculpture was unveiled in a special ceremony as part of the Walker’s 10th anniversary celebration of its Barnes building on July 12, 1981.
More than 12,000 people showed up for the festivities — some 8,000 more than were anticipated — and Hefty 2-Ply‘s debut stirred up further press and interest, such as this cartoon from the Minneapolis Star.
As with so many of the painstaking replicas in Lifelike, the realism of Hefty 2-Ply has a special kind of allure. And while it’s tempting to touch – alas, the the usual museum rules apply to this favorite Walker artwork.
For Yves Klein the act of showing up was everything. His presence created the art and in so doing he created remarkable events. Invoking the spirit of Yves Klein — for surely he will be present in that form at tomorrow night’s After Hours party in honor of his retrospective — here are a few ghosts […]
For Yves Klein the act of showing up was everything. His presence created the art and in so doing he created remarkable events. Invoking the spirit of Yves Klein — for surely he will be present in that form at tomorrow night’s After Hours party in honor of his retrospective — here are a few ghosts of Walker opening parties with some magical moments of their own. (Click on images for a larger view.)
Below is the ‘Party Room’ Otto Piene designed for the exhibition Light / Motion / Space in 1967.
We are not entirely sure what is going on here but believe that the audience would transmit light
through the space under the hair-dryer-like hoods and thus become part of the artwork as well.
Marcel Duchamp (and martini) creates a memorable image of himself with his ready-made
“Bicycle Wheel” (1913), at the opening of Not Seen and/or Less Seen of/by Marcel Duchamp/
Rrose Selavy, just over 45 years ago, in October 1965.
Ben Vautier and Larry Miller capture the audience’s full attention during a performance
of Rene Koering’s “Concerto for Fluxus and Boulez” at the opening of In the Spirit of
And at February, 2000 opening for Let’s Entertain, patrons wearing animal costumes
titled Peter Friedl (1998) by Peter Friedl became part of the installation “these restless
minds” by Doug Aitken.
Marcel Duchamp and Party Room designed by Otto Piene: Eric Sutherland for Walker Art Center
Ben Vautier and Larry Miller: Courtesy Walker Art Center
Doug Aitken installation: Dan Dennehy for Walker Art Center
The Walker’s new photography show, From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America, got me consulting the archives for other exhibitions devoted to prominent photographers. Witness to our Time: The Photographs of Alfred Eisenstaedt is one example with some relevance. A key figure in developing the profession of photojournalism, Eisenstaedt (1898-1995) worked from the 1930s up […]
The Walker’s new photography show, From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America, got me consulting the archives for other exhibitions devoted to prominent photographers. Witness to our Time: The Photographs of Alfred Eisenstaedt is one example with some relevance. A key figure in developing the profession of photojournalism, Eisenstaedt (1898-1995) worked from the 1930s up until the early ’90s — right about the time Soth was turning from sculpture to photography. With his wanderings through the U.S. and beyond, Soth, who works both as an artist and a photojournalist, could be considered a witness to the 1990s and 2000s. However, the similarities between the two may well end there, if the contrast between Eisenstaedt’s sartorial elegance (check out the perfection of his pocket square, below) and Soth’s preference for beards, plaid shirts and trucker caps is any indication.
When the Photographs of Alfred Eisenstaedt opened in February 1967, people lined up outside the Walker’s old building on Hennepin Avenue, braving the cold to see it. The Walker’s staff photographer at that time, Eric Sutherland, captured the spirit of Eisenstaedt’s work as he shot the opening day of the show.
Here, Sutherland photographed the mesmerized crowd looking at Eisenstaedt’s arresting work (click on any image to enlarge):
He also captured a visitor wielding her own camera:
and this amazing shot of Eisenstaedt himself, wielding his:
If you’re curious about the seldom-seen Eric Sutherland, here he is caught in his own photograph the previous year, standing between Walker’s then-director, Martin Friedman and Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey (not on the left):
Legendary Walker board member Philip Von Blon stands just behind Humphrey’s shoulder, amid the children and Secret Service men milling about. The whole scene is reflected in the Michelangelo Pistoletto painting Seated Woman, during the 1966 exhibition Michelangelo Pistoletto: A Reflected World.
(All images taken 2/26/1967 by Eric Sutherland for Walker Art Center.)
1964 — the exhibition — recently opened in the Friedman gallery (named after director emeritus Martin Friedman, who was four years into his 30-year tenure at the Walker in 1964), with a basic idea that has produced many surprises. Curator Siri Engberg, mined the Walker’s permanent collection to find works from 1964 that show, an array […]
1964 — the exhibition — recently opened in the Friedman gallery (named after director emeritus Martin Friedman, who was four years into his 30-year tenure at the Walker in 1964), with a basic idea that has produced many surprises. Curator Siri Engberg, mined the Walker’s permanent collection to find works from 1964 that show, an array of developments in art underway at the time — some nascent, some in full flower.
Given the historical nature of the show, the Walker’s archives provided a wealth of material leading up to the opening of the exhibition. Some of the images, posted here, give a sense of 1964 at the Walker, just as the exhibition 1964 gives a vivid sense of that year in the art world.
The image above, taken in the winter of 1964, is a view from what is now the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and what was then the Parade Grounds. It shows the Walker’s 1927 building and the Guthrie Theater‘s Ralph Rapson-designed building, which had just opened the year before. At this time the Walker and the Guthrie had a symbiotic relationship. Literally joined at the hip, the two institutions shared a physical plant, a wall, and a sculpture court (see below), as well as a vision for presenting the arts in the Twin Cities.
While the Guthrie focused its efforts on the theater company, the Walker utilized the Guthrie stage for performing arts presentations, including the first season of the fledgling Center Opera Company. Center Opera, now the Minnesota Opera, was a chamber opera group started under the Walker’s volunteer organization, the Center Arts Council.
Celebrating a new trend in the contemporary art world, the Walker hosted several exhibitions throughout 1964 featuring Brazilian and Mexican printmakers, Mexican muralists, Portuguese sculptors, and Argentine artists in a wide range of disciplines. It was a time of new perspectives and new forms of international collaboration, as the Walker-organized Ten American Sculptors premiered at the seventh Bienal de Sao Paulo in 1963, followed in 1964 by an enormously successful tour in the U.S., including Minneapolis, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Dayton. Among the artists represented in Ten American Sculptors were Chryssa and George Segal (see below), now on display in 1964.
The Argentine Ambassador and his wife visited the Walker that year as honored guests in celebration of the New Art of Argentina exhibition, which brought to Minneapolis Argentine artistic trends in geometric, abstract, and collage painting, constructivism, and other developments.
Early the next year, the international collaboration would continue with London: The New Scene, exploring the explosion of art and culture in that city in the early ’60s, which included, among others, Joe Tilson and David Hockney (see below) in their first exhibition at the Walker Art Center. A highlight was Tilson’s Look, which the Walker added to its collection, and is now featured in 1964.
Come on down and see Andy Warhol collaborating with Roy Lichtenstein, Yoko Ono sharing space with Claes Oldenburg, and other fantastic celebrations of the pop art, geometry, consumerism, film, and graphics that took hold of art in 1964. It is well worth the trip into the not-so-distant past.