Tate Modern Level 4
24 January – 27 April 2008
Juan Muñoz (1953 – 2001) is widely regarded as of one of the foremost contemporary sculpture and installation artists. Revealing his innovative and wide ranging artistic practice, Tate Modern presents the first major solo retrospective of Muñoz’s work in the UK.
Opening in January 2008, the exhibition will feature more than 90 works, including several previously unseen pieces alongside Muñoz’s signature sculptures and installations, exquisite series of drawings, and collaborative sound and performance pieces. In addition to the main exhibition on Level 4, a group of sculptures and drawings will be installed in a specially focused display on Level 3.Together they will provide a rich and broad experience of Muñoz’s oeuvre against which the power of the 2001 Turbine Hall commission Double Bind, Muñoz’s last great work before his untimely death, is evident.
Muñoz came to international prominence in the mid-1980s with works that placed the human figure in architectural environments. His reputation was built on his ability to create tension between the illusory and real, the contrasting acts of looking and receiving, and the poignant isolation of the individual among a group or crowd. Muñoz’s installations are both dramatic and theatrical, using scale and perspective to inflect the viewer’s encounter with the work.
Muñoz regarded himself as a story-teller, and the uncanny quality of the figures and their enigmatic muteness invite the viewer to construct their own narrative or reading of the work. In the 1990s, Muñoz began to create his well-known Conversation Pieces, clusters of free-standing figures in carefully arranged groups or ensembles. Made in resin or cast in bronze, the figures are frozen in moments of inner contemplation or exchange, caught with their mouths open or in mid-gesture, adding an eerie and literal stillness to the silence of their conversations.
The exhibition features Muñoz’s Raincoat Drawings, made with chalk and ink on blackened gabardine-raincoat fabric, which portray sparsely furnished rooms and often include glimpses of doorways leading to similarly desolate spaces. Like some of the filmmakers he admired, Muñoz was intrigued by the potential embedded in the apparent normalcy of these spaces, which give a sense that something has happened or is about to happen.
Muñoz’s literary work includes essays and writings on artists and architecture. He also produced a number of sound-based works and radio plays in collaboration with composer Gavin Bryars, novelist and art historian John Berger and musician Alberto Iglesias. Originally performed live and broadcast on radio stations around the world, several of these sound-based works will be included in the exhibition and staged live at Tate Modern.
Juan Muñoz is curated by Sheena Wagstaff, Chief Curator, Tate Modern, assisted by Kerryn Greenberg, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue and will tour to Guggenheim, Bilbao (6 June – 28 September 2008), Museu Serralves, Porto (31 October 2008 – 18 January 2009) and Fundacion la Caixa, Madrid (6 February – 7 June 2009).