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'fresh: Haim Steinbach and Objects from the Permanent Collection' on view at the Menil Collection
Haim Steinbach, fresh, 1989, Plastic bottle racks, wood paddle, and metal and wood snow shovel on Formica-laminated wood, 77-3/4 x 96-1/2 x 23-3/4 inches, The Menil Collection, Houston, purchased with funds provided by the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation / Awards.
HOUSTON, TX.- fresh: Haim Steinbach and Objects from the Permanent Collection is an exhibition of sculpture and other works from the Menil Collection organized in collaboration with New York-based artist Haim Steinbach. Since the late 1970s, Steinbach's three- dimensional work has involved the display of preexisting things. As in fresh, his 1989 work in the permanent collection consisting of two bottle racks and two shovels presented on a custom-made red Formica shelf, he painstakingly arranges household items, toys, and other everyday items on support surfaces of his own invention. This exhibition presents a broad range of familiar, new, and rarely seen three- and two-dimensional works of art from the museum’s collection along with other materials from the museum in groupings conceived by Steinbach.

fresh is an oblique homage to artist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) who, famously, divorced bottle racks, shovels, and other commonplace objects from their conventional contexts in his proto-Conceptual sculptures called readymades, which elevate commonplace things to the realm of fine art through the artist’s intention. Its title is a reference to a punning sculpture by Duchamp in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fresh Widow, 1920, a miniature French window with blacked-out panes. Working closely with the Menil’s curators, conservators, and exhibition designers, Steinbach contributes his ideas and presentation strategies—playful and profound—to an exhibition that expands in new ways on a central tenet of the Menil’s philosophy: the idea that works of art from different times and places can spark new connections.

In addition to Steinbach, the exhibition includes works by Sol LeWitt, Marcel Duchamp, Constantin Brancusi, Diego Giacometti, René Magritte, and self-taught artist Hawkins Bolden. It also features examples from the Menil’s extensive collections of historic frames, Americana, and objects used in its loading dock and curatorial offices.






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