From April 20 August 12, 2012, Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart Berlin
presents Anthony McCall. Five Minutes of Pure Sculpture, the artists largest museum exhibition to date. McCall transforms the museums light-flooded historic hall into an expansive black box filled only with fog and his singular projections of light.
The solid light films form a signature body of work, which Anthony McCall (b. 1946 in St. Pauls Cray, England, lives and works in New York) has developed since the 1970s. In these, animated lines drawn in white on black are projected into a room filled with a fine haze so that the two-dimensional drawings are articulated as seemingly tangible, sculptural forms moving slowly in real space. Before relocating from London to New York in 1973, McCall was actively involved with the cinematic avant-garde gathered around the London Film-Makers Co-op. His oeuvre exists at the borders of cinema, sculpture, and drawing.
McCall withdrew from artmaking in the early 1980s but returned to the solid light films beginning in 2003 when new technologies, such as computer animation and digital projection, allowed him to redefine his formal vocabulary. Hamburger Bahnhof dedicates the entire central hall to a selection of seven of these large scale projections, providing the first opportunity to survey the breadth of his work created over the past ten years.
The show also marks the first time McCalls vertical and horizontal pieces are shown together. Originally he projected horizontally onto a wall, reminiscent of the viewing situation in the cinema. More recently, however, the artist has directed the projector, mounted at a height of ten meters in the ceiling, onto the floor. These cones of light can be circumnavigated by the viewer and thus move more fully into the sphere of sculpture. In addition, the works open up an interactive and social space. Spectators can explore these projections not only by moving around them on the outside, but also by freely moving within and through the forms themselves.
Anthony McCall was born in St. Pauls Cray, England, in 1946. From 1964 to 1968 he studied at Ravensbourne College of Art and Design in London. Associated with the London Film-makers Coop, he began to work in avant-garde film in 1971. His early works also include a series of outdoor performances in which he prominently used the element of fire, such as Landscape for Fire I-III (executed between 1972 und 1973). In 1972 the artist participated in the group exhibition A Survey of the Avant-Garde in Britain at Gallery House in London. McCall moved to New York in 1973, where he continued with the fire performances but mainly worked on the concept of his solid light films. The film Line Describing a Cone, in which a volumetric form composed of projected light slowly evolves in space, was made the same year. Long Film for Four Projectors (1974) and Four Projected Movements (1975) are two other works from the series. In addition to various exhibitions in Europe and the United States during this time, McCalls work was shown in Documenta 6 in Kassel (1977) as well as the Venice Biennale in 1976 and 1978. At the end of the 1970s, McCall withdrew from artmaking and subsequently worked primarily as a graphic designer.
Over twenty years later, McCall came into focus of the art world once more with the participation in large historical group exhibitions such as Into the Light: The Projected Image in American Art, 1964-77, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2001/02) and X-Screen. Film Installations and Actions in the 1960s and 1970s, Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna (2003-04). In 2003, he made Doubling Back, his first new work since the 1970s. In the years following, working digitally rather than in 16mm film, he went on to complete a whole series of new solid light installations. Among these are Breath (2004), Between You and I (2006), and Leaving (2009). Recently, McCalls work has been shown in numerous group exhibitions in galleries and museums, among these are The Expanded Eye, Kunsthaus Zürich (2006); Beyond Cinema: The Art of Projection, Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart Berlin (2006/07); The Cinema Effect: Illusion, Reality and the Moving Image, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2008); and On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010/11). Recent solo exhibitions include Films de Lumière Solide, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2004); Serpentine Gallery, London (2007-08); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2009); and Breath (The Vertical Works), Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2009). McCall is currently working on an Arts Council England sculpture commission, which will be presented as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. His work Column is to be realized in North-West England: a spinning column of cloud that rises vertically from the surface of the water into the sky.
McCalls works are represented in many public collections, including Tate Gallery, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Musée National dArt Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museu dArt Contemporani de Barcelona, and Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt. Anthony McCall lives and works in New York.
An Artist Talk with Anthony McCall will take place on Saturday, April 21, 6 pm at Hamburger Bahnhof. Moderated by Henriette Huldisch, curator of the exhibition. No registration required, free of charge.