The first time I saw a work of Jeff Koons was in the late eighties. It was his readymades of vacuum cleaner that put me in gentle ecstasy. That it was possible to repeat the Duchamp prank to make everyday objects into art with modern subject felt at this time of refreshing. Interest in the readymades were strong during the eighties and early nineties. At Koons went over there that he reproduced found objects in other materials, and eventually in a different scale. Something he has in common with the two artists he exhibited together with the Museum of Modern Art: Katharina Fritsch and Charles Ray.
The idea of the exhibition Sculpture for Sculpture is compiling artists who broke new ground when it comes to re-introduce it in figurative sculpture, with the highlight the sculptural object’s opportunities today. There are thirteen works by the three artists that appear. Entering the hall feels a bit like visiting a museum of a bygone culture. As if you were in the future and saw the typical expressions of a certain age. Maybe it has to do with how the works presented – quite sober, with just the right distance from each other.
But the more I think I think it’s because they all three are connected to the history of sculpture. Katharina Fritsch life-size elephant standing on a pedestal that raises it to the monument. Charles and Ray’s naturalistic human figures reminiscent of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. Jeff Koons’ porcelain portrait of Michael Jackson with his monkey Bubbles makes me think of Etruscan tomb chests with characters on the cover.
And that was precisely what happened in the eighties, that the window was opened to history after modernism programmatic forward looking. It was again possible to be figurative, and cite earlier times style grip. And kitsch entered the stage as an adequate means of expression. Katharina Fritsch Madonna is a typical example, an enlargement of a banal figurine painted in bright yellow. More interesting still is perhaps her Lady with dog in 2004 based on a figure made entirely of shells. With her wasp waist and swelling skirts reproducing an image of women from the past that has been completely transformed into characters.
Master of kitsch area is still Jeff Koons. Michael Jackson portrait is unbeatable with its baroque revelry of gold and flowers. It’s not just the imagery that captured the artist, but also the production process around making porcelain figurines, here in almost monumental formats. Koons object is extremely costly to produce. You could say that he works in symbiosis with wealthy art collectors to pursue their art.
While Charles Ray spend great care on his sculptures, which take many times a year to produce . As the tractor, made of hundreds avmodellerade parts cast in aluminum and then merged into one at once fragile and heavy whole. I can not say that it evokes the same aha feeling that Koons works, but in context it still fills its place as a strange, figurative artifact.
at Kulturhuset in progress simultaneously enmönstring of Swedish sculpture. It has its origin in the eighties and nineties by inviting artists who emerged during this time. Is this the same movement towards figurative distinct objects? No, apart from the Klara Kristalovas
glazed pottery figures, so it’s the other way around if moving away from the sculpture as a massive single body. As in the Marianne Lindberg De Geer and Ulf Rollof installations. Or Meta-Isæus Berlin two works: Bedtime and The Awakening from 2014, the first is a bed suspended from thick ropes, the other a bathroom flooded with water – a sort of fountain. Besides being an engineering achievement, it is a wonderful portrayal of total loss of control. Along with the bed that sways like a craft in the dream night created a poetic story about the flows and movements that take place between the conscious and unconscious. If heaviness and lightness, fear and trust.
Installation art shows at other possibilities for sculpture than the figurative highlighted at Moderna Museet. But no matter which way the artist chooses, it is anyway clear that the sculpture as an art form is far from dead.