12 January- 18 February 2012
Photo taken at W 24th Street location.
7 January - 4 February, 2012
On 7 January 2012 the Mary Boone Gallery opened at its Chelsea location Sunflower Seeds, an Installation by world-renowned artist and human rights activist AI WEIWEI. Seen for the first time in New York, Sunflower Seeds, as in the related Installation that debuted at the Tate Modern in London in October 2010, is a field comprised of millions (five tons) of hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds. Each actual-size seed is unique and intricately hand-formed and painted by artisans in the historic porcelain-producing city of Jingdezhen in northern Jiangxi, China.
The sunflower, with its destiny to follow the sun, became a common metaphor for The People during China’s Cultural Revolution. At the same time, the seeds of the flower provided sustenance at all levels of society, and the ubiquitous discarded husks provided evidence of an individual’s existence. Ai Weiwei demonstrates that a staggering quantity of individual seeds may produce a deceptively unified field. The work is a commentary on social, political and economic issues pertinent to contemporary China: the role of the individual versus the masses, and China’s long history of labor-intensive production and export.
541 West 24 Street
Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern:
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A key figure of the Paris avant-garde in the 1950s and ’60s, Jesús Soto (1923–2005) is widely recognized for his groundbreaking innovations in color theory, serial composition, and movement in art. Less well-known is the wide range of styles and mediums that he explored early on. Drawing inspiration from optics and serial music, Soto employed repeating geometric forms and superimposed surfaces to convey a sense of physical displacement. In deconstructing the notion of stability, Soto radically transformed the relation between object and audience. Encouraging viewers to interact physically with his work, Soto engages them as active participants in the process of perception.
Born in the Venezuelan provincial capital of Ciudad Bolívar, Soto trained at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas in Caracas. Frustrated with his country’s increasingly repressive environment, he left in 1950 for Paris, the adopted home of many Latin American intellectuals and artists, including members of the radical Madí group, as well as U.S. artists such as Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Youngerman. In France Soto entered a period of intense activity, exhibiting at the annual Salon des Réalités Nouvelles alongside other artists of the Parisian avant-garde. At the invitation of Victor Vasarely, Soto participated in the pivotal 1955 exhibition Le Mouvement at the Galerie Denise René, which boosted the young artist’s reputation in both Europe and Venezuela as an innovator and vital member of the Kinetic movement.
Focusing on the two decades following Soto’s move to France, the works exhibited here are grouped in five sections, revealing his investigations into new modes of artistic engagement, his contact with European artists Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, Daniel Spoerri, and the Group Zero, and his anticipation of later conceptual strategies. From his first experiments with “dematerial-ization” to his monumental Penetrables environments of the late 1960s, Soto’s achievements in the fields of perception and interaction during this twenty-year span established him as one of Latin America’s most influential 20th-century artists.
October 29, 2011- January 28, 2012