Constructed Worlds. A choice of sculptures from the Centre Pompidou

ExhibitionsConstructed Worlds. A choice of sculptures from the Centre Pompidou

From November 22, 2019 To August 23, 2021

Locations : Galerie 1
Category : Exhibitions
Public : All ages

As early as the beginning of the 20th century, a large part of modern sculpture marked a radical shift away from tradition, by following the route of abstraction. Paradoxically this was a way of analysing the world in a more objective and universal manner: rather than modelling the surface of things, certain artists like the cubists wanted to reveal their essential structure. They divided up the objects they studied into lines, volumes and planes. In their wake, sculptors and diverse avantgardists baptised their works “constructions” or “structures”, opting for a radical abstraction, where lines and right angles predominated. If industrial architecture encouraged these tendencies known as “constructivist”, occasionally willing to produce functional objects, sculpture also looked to redefine what is unique to it: the relationship to gesture, to materials and above all to space, clearly structured, even modular and dynamic, involving the spectator. Modernist artists wanted a transparency and a balance for their sculptures that they wanted to see transposed into human structures. The most important pieces which are assembled here from the Centre Pompidou call into question the spawning of this utopian abstraction, followed by the analysis of it and finally, its contemporary deconstruction.

Curators: Bernard Blistène, Director of the Musée national d’art moderne, with Jean-Marie Gallais, Head of the Programming department, Centre Pompidou-Metz and Hélène Meisel, research and exhibition manager. 

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Founding sponsor:

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With the participation of MUSE
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Constructed Worlds, in the continuity of Phares, Musicircus and The Adventure of Colour, offers a thematic voyage over a long period, of the collection of the Centre Pompidou - Musée national d’art moderne at the Centre Pompidou-Metz. Through around fifty works, from Constantin Brancusi and Alberto Giacometti to Bruce Nauman, Rasheed Araeen and Rachel Whiteread, this fourth part, accompanied by a mediation through images, explores the sculptural research carried out by artists from the beginning of the XXth century up until today.

Without following a strictly chronological order, the exhibition layout approaches some of the fundamental problems of sculpture, by thwarting the presupposed classics: the placing of the gesture, the presence, absence or integration of the pedestal, the invention and reinvention of sculpture beyond the statuary, of volume, gravitas or immobility. The diversity of works and of currents represented in this exhibition navigates through possible “configurations” of a medium which is sometimes pushed back to its outer reaches: graphic sculpture, on the borderline of drawing, with the welded silhouettes by Julio González (Femme à la corbeille, 1934) ; the sculpture “aboveground” and dynamic with the mobiles by Alexander Calder (Fish Bones, 1939) ; sculpture on the borderline of architecture with the Architectones by Kasimir Malévitch (Gota, 1923 / 1989), the monumental impressions by Rachel Whiteread (Untitled (Room 101), 2003) ; or even the sculpture on the point of disappearing with the simulated collapsings by Monika Sosnowska (Rubble, 2008). Ceasing to be an object, sculpture topples over into the “extended field” which the art historian Rosalind Krauss once described, to become a structure, an installation, an environment, a site, a performance…

From the very beginning of the exhibition, the huge timber carved by Joseph Beuys into the barely squared trunk of a tree and laid out on the ground like a sarcophagus, embodies the anonymous archaism of votive objects (Nasse Wäsche Jungfrau II, 1985). In the same vein, the monoliths assembled by Ulrich Rückriem suggest the art of stone masons, going from megalithic alignments to builders of cathedrals (Dolomit, 1982). The direct size of the raw materials presents as a starting point, a primordial gesture, doing away with superfluous transformations, in order to serve a sacred purpose. Further along, Robert Smithson's structures (Mirror vortex, 1964), Donald Judd (Untitled, 1978) and Gerhard Richter (6 stehende Scheiben, 2002/2011) on the contrary show a perfectly industrial manufactured workmanship, of glass surfaces, metal or plexiglass without any faults. Just as anonymous, these minimalist sculptures seem to be prototypes coming out of a factory, produced by machines rather than by hand: objects without gestures, heralding other venerations (technological, mercantile?).

The paradoxes which punctuate this exhibition offer a contrasted rereading of a slice of the history of sculpture from the 20th and 21st centuries, starting from the history of forms, revealing lines of descent just as much as fertile dissensions. In the room devoted to the celebrated aesthetic duel opposing verticality and horizontality, cohabiting as such in an exceptional manner the Colonne sans fin by Constantin Brancusi, and the metallic expanding netting on the ground by Carl Andre (4 Segment Hexagon, 1974). A great admirer of Brancusi – “(before him) verticality was always determined: the top of the head and the soles of the feet were the limits of sculpture. Brancusi's sculpture exceeds its vertical limits and continues beyond its terrestrial limits" – Carl Andre would nonetheless decide to bring down the Colonne sans fin, by adopting an overt horizontality. The exhibition plays on these tensions which constantly redefine modern and contemporary sculpture.

As an introduction and conclusion to this exhibition layout, the artist Falke Pisano born in Amsterdam in 1979) has been invited to conceive an original installation, conceptualised as a " little history of modern sculpture". Since the middle of the first decade of this century, Falke Pisano questioned the paradoxes of modern and contemporary sculpture: can a sculpture be at one and the same time abstract and concrete? Can a sculpture become a conversation? The artist's texts and conferences develop the issues which are dear to her - language, the body, and context. This research is then spatialised and divided into mechanisms capable of accommodating works, diagrams, posters and projections as well as performances.