National Gallery of Art Acquires Sculptures by Richard Artschwager, Allan McCollum, and Hans Haacke

. April 18, 2013

At its annual meeting in March, the Collectors Committee of the National Gallery of Art made possible the acquisition of Piano/Piano (1963–1965/2011) by Richard Artschwager, a major example of the wooden sculptures that employ Formica as a laminate, for which he is known; Plaster Surrogates (1982/1989) by Allan McCollum, the last large grouping available of the artist’s signature works in this series; and Condensation Wall (1963–1966/2013) by Hans Haacke, a breakthrough kinetic work from the artist’s early career.

Richard Artschwager American, 1923-2013 Piano/Piano, 1963-65/2011 laminate on wood 88.9 x 200.7 x 121.6 cm (35 x 79 x 47 7/8 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Collectors Committee  Photo by Lee Ewing, National Gallery of Art, Washington

Richard Artschwager
American, 1923-2013
Piano/Piano, 1963-65/2011
laminate on wood
88.9 x 200.7 x 121.6 cm (35 x 79 x 47 7/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Collectors Committee
Photo by Lee Ewing, National Gallery of Art, Washington

“This year, the Collectors Committee’s selection brings the Gallery three important works of modern sculpture,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “We are very grateful to the Collectors Committee, which enables the Gallery to continually enhance its holdings of modern art.”

The Collectors Committee discretionary fund for photographs, drawings, and prints also supported the acquisition of the Gallery’s first work by Rineke Dijkstra, a three-channel HD video installation with sound, as well as Ed Ruscha’s renowned Stains (1969), 75 individual stains on 75 sheets of paper.

Richard Artschwager, Piano/Piano, 1963–1965/2011

On view in the East Building, Richard Artschwager’s Piano/Piano joins several other sculptures by the artist, including a small related study, Piano #1 (1965), in the Vogel Collection. The artist’s retrospective, Richard Artschwager!, closed at the Whitney Museum on February 3 and will tour to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and the Haus der Kunst, Munich, later this year.

Piano/Piano reflects both Artschwager’s purist training and his subsequent work as a cabinetmaker. The project was planned in several drawings and a collage from 1963 to 1965, but only executed recently, under the artist’s supervision, for a 2012 exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery in Rome. Playing on the classic minimal box so much in evidence in the mid-1960s, Artschwager “fills” it with a depiction of two interlocked pianos, referencing both synthetic cubism (the wood graining) and surrealism (the mustache/bracket, one of his favorite devices).

Richard Artschwager (1923–2013) was a maverick who consistently resisted styles and categories while using sometimes repulsive materials to make objects of rare beauty. A native of Washington, DC, Artschwager studied in New York City with the purist painter Amédée Ozenfant before becoming a furniture maker. In 1958 a fire destroyed his business while exhibitions of the work of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg shook his faith in modernist painting and helped launch him on his singular artistic path. Artschwager died February 9, 2013, at age 89.

For information call (202) 737-4215 or the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) at (202) 842-6176, or visit the Gallery’s website at www.nga.gov

Category: Museum News

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