The Hall Art Foundation is pleased to announce an exhibition by American artist Barry Le Va to be held at its Schloss Derneburg location. Since the late 1960s, Le Va has been considered a pioneer of Post-Minimalist and Process Art. This exhibition brings together over fifty works including large-scale installations, sculptures, collages, and works on paper that span the artist’s career.
Le Va’s early floor sculptures from the late 1960’s, such as Switch (1967/2016), include materials like aluminum, felt, glass and ball bearings dispersed across a designated space. Drawings from this period illustrate potential layouts that were to become essential to the artist’s practice. In Untitled (Plan View) (1967), a sheet of standard graphing paper represents a three-dimensional space as viewed from above. Dots, squares, rectangles and lines signify varied materials that are diagrammatically assembled in distinct but overlapping groups. Although the drawing’s precise draftsmanship reveals Le Va’s architectural training, any meaning or association between the shapes is left for the viewer’s own interpretation.
Off Center, Off Center (Variation 15) (1969 – Present) is a stack of multiple glass sheets, arranged in intersecting layers, which are then shattered at regular intervals with a sledgehammer. The clear glass is penetrated with sinuous cracks that begin at the centralized point of impact, and contrast directly with the straight edges of the glass sheets. Le Va first used glass in his installations in the 1960’s. This evolved to presenting the material as an autonomous sculptural component in documenta 5 (1972). Despite the work’s precise parameters, situational and environmental variables result in a unique and site-specific installation every time it is presented.
Le Va first considered the sculptural potential of cleavers in 1969 while visiting a butcher supply store in Minneapolis. Initial experiments involved the floor or the lower end of a wall, while later installations progressed vertically. Cleaved Wall: Short Wall Grouping (1969/2009) includes eight cleavers, each driven into the wall with blunt force. The cluster exists as “residue” of an unknown act that feels inherently dangerous, and prompts a consideration of various possible narratives.
In the large horizontal, Area Switch: separated sections; sectioned into separates (1974), simple marks including points, halved squares, rectangles and circles are distributed irregularly across the sheet of paper. Although Le Va’s use of geometry recalls his training in architecture and mathematics, the universal vocabulary of shapes is abstracted and the viewer must study the individual components to discern a system.
In the 1980’s, Le Va created a series of large-scale collages characterized by drastically shifting perspectives. In Drawing for Sculpture. Documenta VII. Illusion/Delusion: Related Consequences (1982), three-dimensional forms, partially obstructed by fragments of translucent vellum adhered with masking tape, are positioned within a seemingly limitless space. The composition is meant to mirror the act of walking through an installation. Le Va has said, “most artists see collages as a painting notion. I see collages as a building notion.”
The fluid application of ink in Le Va’s drawing, Untitled, Feltrolls: cut (sheets, to strips, to particles) (1968-1993), emulates the spontaneity of his “scatter” installations. Circular forms are intermixed with opaque rectangles, intersecting lines and groups of dots. Le Va’s return to the drawing in 1993 after a period of twenty-five years reflects the evolution of his practice. The pencil markings trace earlier forms and the composition is altered with the repeated addition of the numeral “2”. Unlike his precise schematics drawn on graphing paper, the expressive nature of this composition relates to Le Va’s capricious large-scale collages from the 1980’s.
Le Va’s sculptural installation, Bunker Coagulation (Pushed from the Right) (1995/2005) is composed of approximately seventy monotone, geometric components cast from hydrastone, some of which are coated in a rubber skin made of neoprene. Traditional and non-traditional shapes are separated into two groups, which are positioned side-by-side and low to the ground. In his 1994 book, Bunker Archeology, French cultural theorist Paul Virilio examined the sociological implications of military structures built by German forces in allied occupied France. Le Va’s sculpture is inspired by Virilio’s investigation of architecture’s inherent ability to elicit impressions of power and dominance, and by the unique geometry of bunkers.
Le Va was born in 1941 in Long Beach, California. Since the late 1960s, his work has been included in several groundbreaking group exhibitions such as Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1969), Information at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1970), documenta 5 (1972), 6 (1977), and 7 (1982) in Kassel, Germany; and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Annual and Biennial exhibitions of 1971, 1977, and 1995. Le Va has had numerous solo exhibitions in the United States and in Europe and has been the subject of major survey exhibitions, including at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1969); the New Museum, New York (1979); Carnegie Mellon Art Gallery, Pittsburgh (1988); Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2005); and the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Portugal (2006), among others. His works can be found in the permanent collections of the Art Institute Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art; Denver Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; mumok, Vienna; The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; The Morgan Library & Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven. Le Va currently lives and works in New York City.
The Hall Art Foundation | Schloss Derneburg Museum is accessible to the general public by appointment.
Hall Art Foundation | Schloss Derneburg Museum
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