Every time I turn around I see more openings for the material to do something else. It has a lot of significant moves.
Gagosian is pleased to announce worldwide representation of John Chamberlain with an exhibition of his new sculptures presented concurrently at the Britannia Street gallery in London and the 24th Street gallery in New York.
Chamberlain is best known for his distinctive metal sculptures, constructed from discarded automobile-body parts and other modern industrial detritus, which he began making in the late 1950s. His singular method of putting these elements together led to his inclusion in the paradigmatic exhibition The Art of Assemblage, at the Museum of Modern Art in 1961, where his work was shown alongside modern masters such as Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso. While freely experimenting with other materials—from galvanized steel and paper bags to Plexiglas, foam rubber, and aluminum foil—he has consistently returned to metal car components, which he terms “art supplies.”
Chamberlain’s works boldly contrast the everyday, industrial origin of their materials with a cumulative formal beauty, often underscored by the given paint finish of the constituents. The process of construction has its roots in industrial fabrication, given that mechanical car crushers often impart preliminary form to his raw materials. Visibly emphasizing the original seams as well as the physical trace of his actions, Chamberlain constructs assemblages that emphatically unite seemingly disparate mechanical elements. Crumpling, crushing, bending, twisting, painting, and welding the metals to form individual objects, which may be further sprayed, he combines them into aggregations, now on a monumental scale that is both imposing and thrilling. The new works are made of metal taken from midcentury American and European cars.
Chamberlain’s emphasis on discovered or spontaneous correlations between materials, rather than a prescribed idea of composition, has often prompted descriptions of his sculptures as three-dimensional Abstract Expressionist paintings. The energetic lines created by the stacks of horizontal and vertical metal in HAWKFLIESAGAIN (2009) bring to mind the gestural approach of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, while the contrasting widths and muscular forms of various combined metal elements in STUFFEDWITHSURPRISE (2011) recall the Franz Kline’s strong painterly brushstrokes. Chamberlain openly credits de Kooning, Kline, and David Smith as early influences on his own artistic development. His works are widely recognized as representing a major transition in the history of modern—and particularly public—sculpture, when industrial materials became an acceptable, and, eventually, preferred medium.
A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition.
From the Quarterly
In Foil Adventures: John Chamberlain’s Late Works in Aluminum, Corinna Thierolf discusses how, starting in the mid-1960s, the artist investigated and perfected working with this material.
Patrick Seguin: Chamberlain and Prouvé
Two twentieth-century heavyweights collide in a show of works by John Chamberlain and Jean Prouvé in New York. Derek Blasberg talks to Patrick Seguin about Prouvé and design on the occasion of the exhibition.
Extended through June 1, 2018
April 17–June 1, 2018
Davies Street, London
September 19–October 28, 2017
980 Madison Avenue, New York
September 7–November 3, 2016
August 10–November 16, 2012
Seagram Building, New York