Dan Graham : Urbanism
27 June – 28 July 2012
Dan Graham (b. 1942 in Urbana, Illinois, lives and works in New York City) is one of the most important artists of his generation. In his manifold works reaching from drawing, photography, performance, video and sculptural installations, he has been investigating the complex connections between city, architecture, perception, interaction and the underlying social conditions.
The exhibition Urbanism shows Graham’s photographic works he has executed from the 1960s on, when he first came to New York City and also in nearby New Jersey, showing buildings dating from the early 19th century. These pictures are demonstratively ‘artless’ and focus the viewer’s attention on their content alone. The composition of the pictures plays with the prosaic structures of Minimal Art. Dan Graham demonstrates how these minimalist structures recur in everyday life, but are subsequently charged with social content. The spectrum reaches from mirrored office high-rises to serial housing developments with décor, kitsch and references to history being part of it. Dan Graham takes Conceptual and Minimal Art from its usual context of the white cube and the desert and introduces it as integral part of cities and suburbia, shopping malls and living rooms.
Two videos complement the exhibition: Westkunst – Die Kultur als Gegenstand der Kunst (Western Art – culture as subject of art) of 1981, an essay on film about cities and suburbs, advertising and television, with music by Glenn Branca. The other film, Dia Center (1992), takes Dan Graham’s pavilion on the Dia Foundation’s roof in New York as a starting point and reflects nature, urbanity and the corporate atriums of New York office buildings that became popular in the 1980s.