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Crystalline Architecture    Jun 30 - Aug 20, 2010


Lyonel Feininger, Walter Gropius, Wenzel Hablik, Walther Klemm, Josiah McElheny, Eileen Quinlan, Heather Rowe, Robert Smithson, Katja Strunz, Bruno Taut

This exhibition began with a question: is it possible for a particular aesthetic form or structure to express both abstract concepts and political ideals? A brief, yet formative moment in history suggests that it might be. Just after World War I, a group of Western European artists and architects who were committed to non-authoritarian and socialist principles envisioned a new, modernist world, constructed out of crystalline forms and structures. In contrast, their fellow colleagues and rivals believed that the geometry of the square, rectangle and grid represented the most essential and efficient solution to economic and aesthetic questions. The rationalists won the argument, but what happened to this alternative model? Here, examples of these early explorations — mostly forgotten until recently — are paired with subsequent investigations and studies from the 1960’s and today. Together, these works propose that the fractures, reflections and the natural, imperfect geometry contained in the crystalline represent a way of thinking and building that encourages myriad solutions.

Three eras from the past 90 years are juxtaposed and intermingled within the exhibition: 1918-1922, 1964-1966 and today. Woodcuts, watercolors, a book, a postcard and a photograph by German and Czech artists and architects are accompanied by a large sculpture by Robert Smithson and a period fashion magazine which contains his influential essay “The Crystal Land”. Interspersed among these historical works are recent projects by four contemporary artists (including myself) that further explore the implications of crystalline structures.

These depictions are not simply gestures towards symbolic, romantic or science fiction motifs, but are images and objects that describe an abstraction that is both made and found, planned and unanticipated. Though this direction was at times suppressed or overwhelmed, throughout the twentieth century and particularly today, there have been artists who have pursued an aesthetic based on the complexity and diversity of the crystalline. These works of sculpture, photography, drawing and writing are brought together in order to sketch an outline for an ongoing history about the search for ways to represent a multitude of possible viewpoints and not a single universal one.
-Josiah McElheny

Andrea Rosen Gallery is delighted to announce the third in a series of exhibitions curated by the gallery’s artists that expand on their individual influences, interests and inspirations.

For press information and images, please contact Jessica Eckert, j.eckert@rosengallery.com

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