The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Diverse works installed throughout museum and on plaza demonstrate artist's inventiveness and wit
Peter Coffin, Untitled (Design for Colby Poster Company), 2008. © Peter Coffin. Photo: Cathy Carver.

WASHINGTON, DC.- Nature, science, pseudoscience, psychological displacement, urban happenstance and what-if brainstorms are among the myriad departure points for the works of Peter Coffin (American, b. Berkeley, Calif., 1972; lives and works in New York). On view at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum June 29 through Oct. 6, “Peter Coffin: Here & There” presents a range of work in diverse media—sculpture, single-channel video, photography, lithography and video installation—throughout the building, on the plaza and online.

Shunning a signature style in favor of an uninhibited approach, the artist draws on experimentation and insight. “Play is not ordinary life,” said Coffin. “[This] does not by any means prevent it from proceeding with seriousness, with an absorption and a devotion. The contrast between play and seriousness is always fluid.” To highlight the engagement of Coffin’s work with various spaces throughout the Hirshhorn, the exhibition brochure uses photographic details and verbal clues to guide visitors toward the locations where it is sited.

Among the highlights of this selective solo exhibition is the debut of a museum commission, located on the lower level. For “Untitled (Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum),” 2013, Coffin devised a temporary installation of paintings from the permanent collection, including works by Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper, Willem de Kooning and John Singer Sargent, and created an animation to be superimposed over these works. Comprising samples of “found” imagery, sound and music, the animation cycles on and off; during the intervals when Coffin’s intervention subsides, viewers reexamine the paintings with heightened intensity. The artist has created comparable projects at the Tate and the Pompidou Center. At the Hirshhorn, Coffin’s work places emphasis on the museum’s permanent collection, which is being featured in a series of exhibitions leading up to the museum’s 40th anniversary in 2014.

Combining a helix and a torus, “Untitled (Spiral Staircase),” 2007, located on the plaza, joins mathematical shapes familiar from biology and cosmology into a mind-bending sculptural puzzle. By looping back on itself, the spiral staircase creates an endless path that can be traversed only in the imagination. For “Untitled (Rainbow),” 2007, located on the lower level, Coffin constructed a collage in the form of an actual spiral—which coils outward from a fixed center—by linking the arcs of rainbows depicted in a series of 31 snapshot-like photographs.

For “Untitled,” 2012, the artist depicts an array of fruit in a frame-shaped arrangement such that the frame becomes an image itself. Coffin adds a conceptual spin to Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s 16th-century portraits composed of fruits and vegetables. This work exists as a C-print but for this exhibition the image appears briefly in the artist’s animated work and can also be found on the Hirshhorn’s website,

Evoking a blissed-out psychedelic spectrum, the brilliant hues of “Untitled (Designs for Colby Poster Company),” 2007, glow throughout a series of 80 lithographs encircling the entire third-floor escalator lobby. Printed by a firm whose wares once advertised concerts and county fairs, these signs bear no message. They are instead luminous, Rothko-esque abstractions. In 2008, the Hirshhorn acquired a selection of works from this series.

The exhibition includes two takes on the animal kingdom. Coffin’s absurdist humor and fascination with manipulations of scale come together in “Untitled (Dog),” 2012. On the lower level, this mixed-media Great Dane is rendered larger than life and made to float slightly off the floor. Sporting piercing blue eyes, it seems to be immersed in thought. Tucked near the third-floor elevator, “Untitled (One Minute Whale Breach),” 2005, turns a spectacular, if common, natural phenomenon on its head. The camera rotates in the direction of the whale’s leap, causing the horizon line on the monitor to move clockwise relative to the counterclockwise motion of the giant beast.

To take in this exhibition, visitors are encouraged to traverse the museum, discovering evidence of the artist’s chameleon-like virtuosity embedded among works by others. Coffin’s medium, means and stylistic approach may shift, but one constant is his exuberant subversiveness, which is often found in tandem with wry, cosmic humor.

“Peter Coffin: Here & There” is organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The exhibition’s curator is Hirshhorn associate curator Kelly Gordon. “Peter Coffin: Here & There” is made possible in part by Altria Group.

Today's News

July 2, 2013

A Visionary Modernist: Ibrahim El-Salahi's first major exhibition in the UK opens at Tate

Polish and Peruvian archaeologists find dozens of mummies in pre-Inca royal tomb in Peru

Sotheby's announces the largest Ben Nicholson painting ever to be offered at auction

Gagosian Paris exhibition explores styles and movements appropriated by Roy Lichtenstein

After 52 years, veteran curator of Russia's Pushkin Museum Irina Antonova quits at age 91

Summer exhibition on Park Avenue features 13 new steel sculptures by Albert Paley

Thirty photographs from the Cecil Beaton archives on view at Galerie Charpentier

Art lovers can now visit New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art every day of the week

Take a chance! Rare ABBA memorabilia up for auction at Stockholm's Auktionsverk

Diverse works installed throughout museum and on plaza demonstrate artist's inventiveness and wit

Van Abbemuseum's Lissitzky - Kabakov exhibition goes to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg

Hermès presents its third edition of the carré d’artiste created by Hiroshi Sugimoto

Bronx Museum completes $1 million acquisitions campaign in celebration of 40th anniversary

Detroit Institute of Arts' Gracehoper sculpture to undergo major conservation

Bonhams to sell ex-Tazio Nuvolari 1935 Alfa Romeo Tipo C 8C-35 '50013' Scuderia Ferrari Nr '65'

Marlborough Graphics opens an exhibition of prints by R B Kitaj

Santa Barbara Museum of Art exhibition explores contemporary culture's obsession with the handcrafted

Artist Peter Anton's 'Random Acts of Indulgence' channels Willy Wonka and Jeff Koons

MCA Chicago shows work by contemporary artists who examine the space of the home

Uzupis: a funky artists' republic in Lithuania's capital

Italy promises UNESCO it will not abandon Pompeii

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- The Morgan explores the Medieval world's fascinating approach to the passage of time

2.- Experts discover hidden ancient Maya structures in Guatemala

3.- Egyptian archaeologists unveil tomb of Old Kingdom priestess Hetpet

4.- The Speed Art Museum and Italian Ministry reach loan agreement on ancient calyx-krater

5.- Major exhibition features artistic masterpieces from the glorious Church of the Gesù

6.- From Beowulf to Chaucer, the British Library makes 1,000 years of rich literary history freely available online

7.- Truck damages Peru's ancient Nazca lines

8.- Trish Duebber is new Coordinator of Youth Programs at Boca Raton Museum Art School

9.- Exhibition examines the way art, like language, was used to articulate a rhetoric of exclusion

10.- The Dallas Museum of Art announces gift of three major European works

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful