Two works that bring to life questions of structure and material open the Energy and Process wing.
The central space of the Energy and Process wing is devoted to artists working in the late 1960s who explored materials and forms derived from nature and everyday life. The Italian artists associated with arte povera revolutionised the making of the art object. As well as using ‘poor’ materials (such as rags, clay or wood), their work often included traces of the artist’s actions, harnessed latent energies such as gravity or magnetism, and disrupted the space between the viewer and the artwork. Related ideas were investigated by other artists around the world. In the United States, for example, the term ‘anti-form’ was applied to sculpture that embraced chance and other organic processes. Surrounding displays show how these developments had their antecedents in early modernism and have been extended into installations and into the environment beyond the gallery.
One of the pioneers of the twentieth-century avant-garde, Kazimir Malevich wrote that art should be liberated ‘from the dead weight of the material world’. Made just before the Russian Revolution, his Suprematist Composition suggests harmonies accessible through art but beyond human experience. Malevich’s precision and revolutionary idealism were important touchstones for many artists of the 1960s, and his work is being shown here in dialogue with that of Richard Serra. In contrast to Malevich’s transcendent abstraction, Serra’s Trip Hammerembodies a powerfully material presence. The plates of heavy steel are balanced and unfixed. Carefully proportioned and poised, they combine classical simplicity with a sense of nervous energy and tension.
Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935) was born near Kiev. He lived and worked in Moscow, Vitebsk and St Petersburg.
Richard Serra was born in San Francisco in 1939. He lives and works in New York and Nova Scotia.
Curated by Matthew Gale.