NEW YORK, NY.- The Pace Gallery
presents an exhibition juxtaposing the work of Alfred Jensen and Sol LeWitt, two artists whose bodies of work connect to the grid and are governed by systems. Alfred Jensen/Sol LeWitt: Systems and Transformation will be on view at 32 East 57th Street from January 13 through February 11, 2012.
Exhibited side-by-side, Jensens colorful and tactile abstract paintings and LeWitts minimalist white structures reveal the vastly different outcomes that can arise from similar conceptual foundations. Jensen uses mathematical systems to construct two-dimensional grid paintings and demonstrate color theories, but the work itself is metaphorical, referencing pre-Colombian and Asian cultures, textiles, and divination. LeWitts three-dimensional grid sculptures, in contrast, are self-referential, rooted in logic and reality, and governed by mathematical instructions that objectively organize space. The exhibition will include eight paintings by Jensen and eight open geometric structures by LeWitt.
Jensen's intricately organized diagrams reflect his distinctive conceptual approach, begun in the late 1950s when he started to refine his wide-ranging studies of systems and philosophiesfrom theories of color and light, mathematics, and the Mayan calendar, to scientific formulationsinto multicolored checkerboards. The paintings on view, made between 1960 and 1975, include one of Jensens largest and most complex works, A la Fin de lautomne (1975). A honeycomb of color, numbers, and symbols, the elements alternate between light and dark, with each square bearing an abstract marker. Jensen had travelled to Brazil and Peru just one year earlier, and the work suggests the pattern of a pre-Colombian tapestry rendered in thick impasto.
In contrast, LeWitts austere open structures, made from basic geometrical units arranged according to pre-determined mathematical sequences, reflect their own poetics. A pillar of minimalist and conceptual art, Sol LeWitt helped revolutionize the definition of art in the 1960s with his famous declaration that the idea becomes a machine that makes the art. Reducing art to its essentials, the cube became the basic modular unit for his artistic inquirythe grammatical device from which his work would proceed. A universally recognizable form that could not be mistaken to represent anything other than itself, the cube eliminated the necessity of inventing another form, allowing the form itself to be used for invention. The exhibition will feature all manner of structures of forms derived from the cube, made out of wood or aluminum and painted white, from between 1971 and 1997, including the ceiling-mounted work Hanging Structure (1992), and a maquette for an outdoor structure similar to those recently featured in the Public Art Funds landmark survey exhibition Sol LeWitt Structures: 19652006, installed in New Yorks City Hall Park from May to December 2011.
Concurrently, Pace has installed a monumental concrete block structure by Sol LeWitt on the roof of its Chelsea gallery at 510 West 25th Street, which is visible from the High Line. The structure, Horizontal Progression (1991), continues LeWitts interest in generating variety within self-imposed constrictions, moving only horizontally, vertically, or diagonally to the left or right.
This is the first exhibition to examine in depth the contrasts between Jensen and LeWitt, though the work of the two artists has previously been included in group exhibitions at Pace that explore the connections between artists working over mediums and decades, including Logical Conclusions: 40 Years of Rule-Based Art (2003) and On the Square (2010). The two artists have been included together in other group exhibitions at museums worldwide, including To Infinity and Beyond: Mathematics in Contemporary Art, The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, New York (2008); Structures of Difference, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut (2003); Generations of Geometry: Abstract Painting in America since 1930, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1987); Grids, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (1972); and Plus by Minus: Today's Half Century, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York (1968).