Gagosian Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent sculpture by Robert Therrien.
Therrien is known as an object maker who transforms elements from everyday life into works of art that evoke mythic archetypes. Working both two- and three-dimensionally, he has created a deceptively simple oeuvre that lends itself to psychological interpretation with its evident fascination with childhood, its anxieties and fantasies. While his mentors would seem to include a generation of Pop artists, his work also attests to the impact of Conceptualism as well as folk culture, cartoons, and everyday objects.
In 1993, Therrien made a significant breakthrough that influenced all his ensuing work. No Title (Yellow Table Leg) presented a dramatic shift from the less representational objects that preceded it. This work and the next — Under the Table (1994), a colossal wooden kitchen table and chair set measuring ten feet by twenty-six feet — marked a new direction for Therrien. He found that by recreating everyday objects true to their original material and color, but on a greatly enlarged scale, the viewer's relationship to them changed dramatically. In the current exhibition there are four gigantic sculptures, each of which relates to the acts of stacking and folding. No Title (Folding Table and Chairs) comprises four sets of card tables and chairs in authentic 'institutional' tones of beige, brown, and green. The monumentality of these objects invites the viewer to walk around and beneath them, altering perspective and experience to render a formerly familiar situation strange. In No Title (Stacked Plates) and No Title (Pots and Pans II), Therrien similarly remakes everyday domestic accoutrements in new and uncannily large proportions, then assembles them into precariously balanced towers standing almost eight feet tall.
No Title (Red Room) (2000-2007) took Therrien seven years to realize, gathering and arranging 888 red objects inside a custom-made closet with Dutch doors. His meticulous assembly of objects both found and made—red shoes, red laces, red lanterns, red sweaters, red bricks, red canisters, and so on—prompts various associations, for example, from the object/group relationship in Matisse's Red Studio (1911), to the total environment of Cildo Meireles' Red Shift (1967-1984), or Louise Bourgeois' The Red Room—Parents (1994) and The Red Room—Child (1994). In Therrien's work, however, the red items are subsumed into the background, the seemingly disparate objects becoming a unified, monochromatic whole.
Robert Therrien was born in Chicago in 1947. His work has been exhibited throughout the world since the 1970s, most recently at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. A major drawing survey is being prepared by the Kunstmuseum Basel, opening in May 2008. Public collections include the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Tate Modern, London; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Broad Contemporary Museum at LACMA, Los Angeles. Therrien lives and works in Los Angeles.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a substantial monograph co-published by Rizzoli with essays by art historians Norman Bryson and Margit Rowell.
Robert Therrien: The Causal Link to the (Un)Real
In honor of the extraordinary life of Robert Therrien (1947–2019), Aimee Gabbard writes about her time with the artist and explores his lifelong interest in photography.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.
Under the Table
Robert Therrien’s investigations of form, perception, and subjectivity often isolate recognizable elements and objects from everyday life. Blake Gopnik challenges the traditional readings of transformation and the purpose of scale in Therrien’s No title (folding table and chairs, green).
Alexander Wolf discusses the recurring themes and symbols that have emerged throughout Robert Therrien’s artistic career.