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John Chamberlain

Seagram Building

August 10–November 16, 2012
Seagram Building, New York

John Chamberlain, PINEAPPLESURPRISE, 2010 Colored aluminum foil, 185 × 130 × 126 inches (469.9 × 330.2 × 320 cm)© Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

John Chamberlain, PINEAPPLESURPRISE, 2010

Colored aluminum foil, 185 × 130 × 126 inches (469.9 × 330.2 × 320 cm)
© Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

John Chamberlain, MERMAIDMISCHIEF, 2009 Colored aluminum foil, 153 ½ × 169 ⅜ × 130 inches (389.9 × 430.2 × 330.2 cm)© Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

John Chamberlain, MERMAIDMISCHIEF, 2009

Colored aluminum foil, 153 ½ × 169 ⅜ × 130 inches (389.9 × 430.2 × 330.2 cm)
© Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

John Chamberlain, ROBUSTFAGOTTO, 2008 Colored aluminum foil, 120 ⅛ × 104 ⅜ × 92 ½ inches (305 × 265.1 × 235 cm)© Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

John Chamberlain, ROBUSTFAGOTTO, 2008

Colored aluminum foil, 120 ⅛ × 104 ⅜ × 92 ½ inches (305 × 265.1 × 235 cm)
© Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

John Chamberlain, FROSTYDICKFANTASY, 2008 Aluminum foil, 130 ⅜ × 208 ¾ × 198 inches (332 × 531.1 × 502.9 cm)© Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

John Chamberlain, FROSTYDICKFANTASY, 2008

Aluminum foil, 130 ⅜ × 208 ¾ × 198 inches (332 × 531.1 × 502.9 cm)
© Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Installation view Artwork © Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Rob McKeever

About

Gagosian is pleased to present four monumental sculptures by the late John Chamberlain, on view at the Park Avenue plaza outside the historic Seagram Building from August 10.

PINEAPPLESURPRISE (2010), MERMAIDSMISCHIEF (2009), ROBUSTFAGOTTO (2008), and FROSTYDICKFANTASY (2008) are among the later sculptures that Chamberlain produced during his sixty-year career. Up to fifteen feet in height, the works on view are constructed from silver, green, or copper-colored industrial aluminum, which has been looped and flexed into whimsical, biomorphic forms. From the mid–1970s, Chamberlain began fashioning miniature sculptures from household aluminum foil. In 2007, he began successfully transposing these miniatures into durable materials on a grand scale, but without sacrificing any of the lightness, directness, and spontaneity of the initial foils. Although he used materials other than his signature “art supply” of discarded metal car parts, these sculptures consistently reflect his lifelong concern with what he described as “fit.” The intricately tangled and woven parts ultimately resolve themselves in balanced, cohesive structures.

The titles of these sculptures are also amalgamations, consistent with Chamberlain’s longtime interest in language play. Capitalization, puns, nonsensical words, and sexual innuendoes proliferate throughout his naming structure, which deploys an offbeat sense of humor and abounds with personal references. As noted in the catalogue for the recent Guggenheim Museum retrospective, ROBUSTFAGOTTO could be a play on the Italian word “fagotto,” which was a Renaissance-era instrument predating the bassoon, while “robust” is commonly used to describe woodwind performances. Together, they might suggest Chamberlain’s reverence for music, especially jazz. Read another way, the word “bust” becomes evident, as does the imperative, “got to,” and the palindromic name “Otto.”

Given their reflective and textured surfaces and powerful torque, the sculptures appear to be in constant flux as one walks around them on the plaza; changes in atmosphere and weather also impact their overall appearance. The streamlined geometric modernism of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building (1954–58) further accentuates their playful, irreverent, and exuberant presence in the bustling urban landscape.

From the Quarterly