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Artist Joel Shapiro Creates an Installation of New Works for the Museum Ludwig
Exhibition view, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 26 February - 25 September 2011. Foto: Lothar Schnepf © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011.

COLOGNE.- American sculptor Joel Shapiro (b. 1941) created an installation of new and preexisting works for the Museum Ludwig's large sky-lighted gallery, interweaving the pieces into a new structure in the space. He will arrange free-hanging, colored wooden beams according to a sophisticated plan, shaping a new sense for space and the possibilities of sculpture.

Shapiro's works, which freely float from barely visible wires between the ceiling and the floor, appear to move in space and thereby transform the gallery itself into a sculpture as immense as it is airy. The picture varies with each step, as borders, dimensions, and colors change. The artist toys both with perception and the construction of space, while his works are not exclusively tied to this one room. Despite all his connections to modernist and minimalist traditions, he produces surprising (work)-constellations and totally new spatial perceptions. When dealing with materials and also in his relationship vis-à-vis space, the recurring issue is transformation. He addresses alteration and termination of supposedly established attributions. Although reduced to basic geometric forms and made of painted wood, the works in the show develop an almost flowing ease and space-dissolving movement.

Shapiro's concept is reminiscent of the early Russian Constructivists: they attributed the highest priority to experiencing space within their art production. Key terms like construction and dynamics as well as their interplay were pivotal to their expansive, voluminous oeuvre. Yet, even as Shapiro plays with this formal heritage, he transgresses it with ease, freeing it from its utopian charge and leaving material and form their space.

Born in New York in 1941, Joel Shapiro studied Fine Arts at New York University from 1964 to 69. In 1976 and in 1980, he represented the United States at the 37th and the 39th Venice Biennale. His works were also included at documenta 6 and documenta 7. Shapiro lives and works in New York.

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