NEW YORK, NY.- The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
presents Object Lessons: Case Studies in Minimal ArtThe Guggenheim Panza Collection Initiative, a major print publication contributing new scholarship on a critical period in art production and the field of conservation. In addition, the museum has launched a new digital archive, the Panza Collection Initiative Records. The book and archive were released upon the conclusion of the Panza Collection Initiative (PCI), a rigorous, three-phase project established in 2010 to investigate the long-term preservation, perpetuation, and display of variable, ephemeral, and fabrication-based artworks of the 1960s and 1970s.
Objects from this period may exist in ways that are unstable rather than fixed, and may be subject to changing conditions of medium and fabrication or the challenge of obsolescence. They are also often subject to the influence of assistants and fabricators commonly enlisted to produce work in collaboration with the artist as author. A work of this period might also be confronted with legal and moral implications of ownership once it leaves the artists possession. In light of these factors, single works often existand have been shown or collected over the course of decadesin multiple forms.
With these considerations in mind, the PCI utilized the holdings of the Guggenheims Panza Collection, an extensive body of nearly 350 works of Minimal, Post-Minimal, and Conceptual art, and developed case studies on seven major artists: Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Lawrence Weiner, and Doug Wheeler. The projects findings were based on exhaustive analyses of works by each artist, revealing previously unknown aspects of the conceptual and technical terms of their work and providing insight into the artistic practice of this period more broadly. Through this study, the Guggenheims PCI team has developed methodologies specific to these factors in aesthetic practice after 1960.
Object Lessons, a richly illustrated, 328-page volume, focuses on four works by key figures of 1960s Minimal and Conceptual art: Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, and Lawrence Weiner. Each work is presented from several vantages: an exhaustive chronological account conveys the surprisingly complicated history of the works realization, acquisition, ownership, and display. An overview addresses the broad practical and conceptual implications of this information for both the historical identity and the posterity of the work. A conservation narrative establishes the role of fabricators and the material and technical standards at stake in the production of the object. Together, the authors explore how a previously unaddressed history of production, ownership, and display has deeply influenced the life and legacy of these radical examples of Minimal and Conceptual art.
A separate section examines the topic of decommission, a new category of collection classification for works that are contested or compromised and are therefore no longer viable for display. Throughout, the book is copiously illustrated with photographs of the works, the exhibitions in which they appeared, and related drawings and proposals from scores of archives and other sources. Rounding out this volume are extensive excerpts of new interviews with artists and fabricators, key historical documents, and previously unpublished correspondence.
Object Lessons is published by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and authored by Francesca Esmay, Conservator; Ted Mann, Consulting Associate Curator; and Jeffrey Weiss, former Senior Curator. It includes a preface by Nancy Spector, former Artistic Director and Deputy Director; and Lena Stringari, Deputy Director and Chief Conservator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and additional texts by Martha Buskirk, Professor of Art History and Criticism, Montserrat College of Art; and Virginia Rutledge, art historian and attorney. The hardcover volume, priced at $55, is available in June 2021 through D.A.P. and at guggenheim.org/publications.
The Panza Collection Initiative Records and online finding aid offer a rich resource of material including:
Transcripts, video and audio recordings, and photographs from over 70 interviews with artists and/or their assistants, associates, and fabricators, as well as other stakeholders
Illustrated narratives for over 110 works detailing their fabrication, exhibition, and ownership histories
Technical examination reports, many based on comparative analysis with other fabrications of a given work, where applicable
Over 3,000 images of invaluable primary and secondary source documents, including working drawings, certificates of ownership and authenticity, and related images and documents pertaining to sales, questions of display, and multiple iterations of a single work
Transcripts, video recordings, and images of each of the five two-day Advisory Committee meetings held throughout the study. The committee consisted of experts from diverse fields including art history, critical theory, law, curatorial practice, and conservation
Video recordings from Object Lessons: The Panza Collection Initiative Symposium, which was held April 910, 2019, at the Guggenheim and included a concurrent didactic display of works by Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, and Bruce Nauman
The archive features an easily navigable online collection finding aid that will allow researchers, educators, and the broader public to access the full breadth of material produced during the project. The archive is available at guggenheim.org/archives