The special exhibition Robert Therrien presents a concise survey of work by the Los Angelesbased artist (American, born 1947), who is widely known for humorous work that evokes the real and the imagined in equal measure. The exhibition, which also highlights the collaboration between Therrien and the Buffalo-based poet Robert Creeley (American, 19262995), underscores the appropriateness of poetry as a metaphor for Therriens work in a career that now spans nearly forty years. Robert Therrien is organized by guest curator Heather Pesanti, Senior Curator at AMOA-Arthouse in Austin, Texas, and will be on view at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery
from July 3 to October 27, 2013.
From his modestly sized, exquisitely hand wrought early sculptures to his later, large-scale fabricated sculptures, each work in the exhibition illuminates Therriens practice of abstracting and extracting elements of the ordinary to render the extraordinary. The survey explores the humble motifs that the artist coaxes into surreal configurations through abstraction, repetition, color, and scale.
Therriens work defies interpretation and courts free association and multiple narratives, allowing viewers the space to create their own narratives, imagine their own associations, or revisit their own childhood recollections. Like the work, the artists career resists a singular interpretation. In an interview with exhibition curator Heather Pesanti, the artist noted, It has always baffled me how people can work in a linear way, to have a body of work that progresses continually in a specific direction. . . . They dont really progress in a logical way; rather they somehow get a little bit more refined, not one after another; images come and go away and come back again, like the spiral shape or the squiggle drawing. In her essay for the exhibition catalogue, Pesanti, referring to the artists collaboration with Robert Creeley, notes, Poetry is perhaps a more appropriate metaphor for Therriens work, as both Creeleys words and Therriens objects are open-ended, circling around meaning rather than leading us directly to it.
Reflecting the Albright-Knox Art Gallerys focus on acquiring the work of contemporary artists in depth, eight of the objects in the exhibition are drawn from the Gallerys Panza Collection, including pivotal early works from the 1980s, along with works on paper and an iconic large-scale folding table and chair set from 2006. In all, the survey will contain forty-one works.
Born in Chicago, Robert Therrien grew up in San Francisco, moving to Los Angeles in 1971, where he continues to live and work. Known primarily as a sculptor, he has also created paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs. His work is held in numerous public collections worldwide, including those of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica; The Getty Center, Los Angeles; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; La Musée national dart moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and the Tate, London.