For it is not possible to step twice into the same river, according to Heraclitus, nor to touch mortal substance twice in any condition: by the swiftness and speed of its change, it scatters and collects itself again—or rather, it is not again and later but simultaneously that comes together and departs, approaches and retires.
Gagosian is pleased to present Retrospective, including works by Chris Burden, Marcel Duchamp, Tom Friedman, Piero Golia, Douglas Gordon, Richard Hamilton, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Takashi Murakami, Piotr Uklański, and Andy Warhol. The retrospective exhibition, conceived and realized by a museum institution, is perceived as a watershed in any artist’s career. This exhibition looks at various ways in which contemporary artists mine their own histories to create their own defining moments—the retrospective gesture as a means of creating a perpetual present, as a process of physical recollection, as a strategy of circulation, or as a pure conceit.
The exhibition begins with a famous twentieth-century example, Duchamp’s Boîte-en-valise. Between 1935 and 1941, Duchamp created an edition of twenty boxes, each in a brown leather carrying case containing a myriad of miniature works of art, each with slight variations in design and content. Duchamp was already thinking about producing a box containing his works—or rather, texts and a few sketches—in the 1910s. These early musings led to the edition La Boîte verte (The Green Box) in 1934. Following this, he started planning another box containing all the works he had created since the beginning of his career, from Nude Descending a Staircase, Chocolate Grinder, and Nine Malic Moulds to three-dimensional replicas of sculptures and readymades, including the notorious Fountain. The painting reproductions were black-and-white photographs that he hand-colored, thereby creating “new originals,” which he then certified. Following his invention of the readymade, Boite-en-valise further underscores the interdependence of object and context so central to Duchamp’s circular definition of the work of art.
More than sixty years later, Takashi Murakami turned Duchamp’s precedent inside out when he released a series of popular shokugan or snack-toy figurines, packaged and labeled “Superflat Museum” and sold in Japanese convenience stores. The figures range in height from one to four inches and include reproductions of some of his sculptural work, such as the now-famous Hiropon, as well as figures rendered in three dimensions from his paintings and drawings. Handcrafted by renowned toy manufacturer Kaiyodo, each comes with a certificate of authenticity and a mini portfolio including information about the work that inspired it, interviews with Murakami, and two pieces of chewing gum.
A younger generation of artists follows a less poetic and more pragmatic strategy, not without a sense of humor or self-deprecation. Piotr Uklański has reproduced a to-scale linear wall installation of what he considers to be his most important works to date; Douglas Gordon has assembled pretty much every film and video work from 1992 until about now (1992–2014), playing simultaneously on a veritable arsenal of stacked video monitors; Tom Friedman’s Inside-out (1991–2006) is itself a sculpture made from the sweepings and leftovers of the studio, a literal recollection of fifteen years of material and process.
Riffing on the convention of exhibition planning using models, Piero Golia’s Retrospective is a scale model not only of an exhibition and exhibition space, but of the artist’s own wishful thinking. Chris Burden’s retrospective gesture, the ironically named Deluxe Photo Book 1971–73 (1974), is housed in a modest, hand-painted binder containing documentary photographs and explanatory texts pertaining to his notorious performances.
Jacquelynn Baas profiles Isabelle Waldberg, writing on the sculptor’s many friendships and the influence of her singular creations.
On Collecting with Norman Diekman
Rare-book expert Douglas Flamm speaks with designer Norman Diekman about his unique collection of books on art and architecture. Diekman describes his first plunge into book collecting, the history behind it, and the way his passion for collecting grew.
Gwen Allen recounts her discovery of cutting-edge artists’ magazines from the 1960s and 1970s and explores the roots and implications of these singular publications.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2020
The Spring 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #412 (2003) on its cover.
Cast of Characters
James Lawrence explores how contemporary artists have grappled with the subject of the library.
Alexander Wolf explores the economic, social, and methodological concerns of Piero Golia’s art practice, revealing the real-world implications of the artist’s experiments with form and process.
From a Tropical Space
October 1–December 19, 2020
West 21st Street, New York
Extended through September 4, 2020
March 12–September 4, 2020
West 21st Street, New York