14 episodes

Explore works from our contemporary collection. Click on the linked artwork to find out if it is currently on display in the Gallery.

Curator insights - Contemporary galleries Art Gallery of New South Wales

    • Visual Arts

Explore works from our contemporary collection. Click on the linked artwork to find out if it is currently on display in the Gallery.

    Wall drawing #337: Two part drawing. The wall is divided vertically into two parts. Each part is divided horizontally and vertically into four equal parts. 1st part: Lines in four directions, one direction in each quarter. 2nd part: Lines in four direct

    Wall drawing #337: Two part drawing. The wall is divided vertically into two parts. Each part is divided horizontally and vertically into four equal parts. 1st part: Lines in four directions, one direction in each quarter. 2nd part: Lines in four direct

    First drawn by: Kazuko Miyamoto

    First installation: Panza di Biumo residence, Varese, Italy, June 1980     

    Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings are executed by professional draughtspeople from sets of instructions generated by the artist. LeWitt emphasised the idea or concept of an artwork over its visual realisation, hence his assertion that his instructions are themselves the work of art.

    ‘Wall drawing #337’ and ‘Wall drawing #338’ exemplify this process: both works are drawn by professional draughtspeople following LeWitt’s instructions. The artist’s methodology has been likened to that of a composer: the works are manifested by others, and no single drawing is ever the definitive version. In a 1971 interview LeWitt commented: ‘I try to make the plan specific enough so that it comes out more or less how I want it, but general enough that [the draughtspeople] have the freedom to interpret. It’s as though I am writing of piece of music and somebody else is going to play it on the piano.’

    • 3 min
    Untitled

    Untitled

    Like many minimalist artists Donald Judd worked in a modular way. ‘Untitled’, for example, is a series of horizontal rectangular units. The proportions of the module start with a ‘given’ – in this case, the size and thickness of the plywood that determines all other proportions in the work. Sometimes the boxes appear irregular, but this is an illusion of perspective and of the light falling into and around each box. The way an object contains space or casts shadow is part of Judd’s work. While his works were often made of steel and sometimes plastic, for ‘Untitled’ Judd made a very deliberate choice of wood, which retains the traces of its grain and has a glowing natural colour.

    • 3 min
    Steel-copper plain

    Steel-copper plain

    Carl Andre nearly always works in a grid, with the dimensions of his finished works determined by multiples of a basic module – such as a brick, metal plate or house beam. The shape of each work depends entirely on the number and configuration of modules. The works are often laid out on the floor like carpet and can in fact be walked on. Although not site-specific, the works emphasise and respond to the planes of the space they occupy. While the minimalist use of industrial materials on a grand scale is often regarded as overtly masculine and assertive, Andre’s work, in contrast, is modest and quietly poetic.

    • 3 min
    what do you want?

    what do you want?

    Spanning a broad array of material practices and media, Ugo Rondinone’s works are often unsettling and deal with themes of isolation and disenchantment. At once distinct and interrelated, the works installed in this room cross-pollinate, shaping a single narrative. The looped conversation of the wall and sound installation ‘what do you want?’ suggests a relationship permeated with miscommunication, doubt and loneliness. Coupled with this soundtrack, the reclining clown in ‘if there were anywhere but desert. wednesday’ appears bored and disaffected. In a similar vein of inversion and directionlessness, ‘all MOMENTS stop here and together we become every memory that has ever been.’ resembles a window, yet rather than opening onto a view, it reflects the interior space back onto itself in sombre black tones.

    • 3 min
    Untitled

    Untitled

    ‘In the 1950s and 60s Frank Stella was a leading advocate for American artists who were attempting to break with the tradition of European painting that made reference to the world of visual effects beyond the canvas beyond art. Stella wanted to make an art form that was complete in itself, with as little internal division of its form as possible. His early paintings were determined by certain givens, such as the width of the canvas or paintbrush, or the nature of the paint itself. Stella said he wanted to to ‘keep the paint as good as it was in the can’. He had a favourite house-painting brush 2¾ inches wide and stretched his canvas over stretcher bars that were also 2¾ inches wide – both determining the width of the stripes painted parallel to the stretcher. This structural premise can be considered as the trigger for American minimalism.’

    • 2 min
    Sleepers II

    Sleepers II

    Francis Alÿs’ idiosyncratic work resists classification. Encompassing lists, plans, and drawings, performances (including public parades and solitary walks) and collections of objects sourced from flea markets, his work is inclusive and plural and is often inspired by and located in the streets of Mexico City, where the artist lives and works.

    ‘Sleepers II’ is formed out of the colourful ecology of these streets documenting people and dogs asleep on streets, benches and bus stops. While the work could easily lend itself to social commentary the artist’s celebratory approach to his subject undermines such an interpretation. Embracing the disorder and openness of Mexico City, Alÿs has commented that: "'Sleepers' records the way dreaming might have a role in a possible rethinking of our conviviality."

    • 3 min

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