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Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis Presents Richard Artschwager: Hair

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis is proud to present an exhibition of works by the widely acclaimed American artist Richard Artschwager, in the first focused look at the artist’s exploration of rubberized horsehair.

A maverick who began his career as a cabinet-maker, Artschwager has influenced countless other artists with a wide-ranging body of work that includes sculptures, paintings, prints, photographs, installations, drawings, and furniture pieces that merge the machine-made with the hand-made. Over the past four decades, his work has been variously described as Pop Art, because of its derivation from utilitarian objects and incorporation of commercial and industrial materials; as Minimal Art, because of its geometric forms and solid presence; and as Conceptual Art, because of its cool and cerebral detachment. But none of these classifications adequately define the aims of an artist who specializes in the relationship between perception and deception.

Artschwager’s exhibition at the Contemporary focuses on a material he has used throughout his career: rubberized horsehair. Emerging from the artist’s famous blps series he began in 1968, the hair works depart from the crisp lines and sharp forms of his better-known Formica furniture works, and blur the clarity of sculptural form, throwing objecthood out of focus. As illusions, the images confuse the real with the artificial, and while his figures dance, climb, dive, and rejoice as “living” characters, their materials prevent the image from staying within our reach.

Included in the exhibition are images that have made up Artschwager’s iconography for over forty years: hair-covered blps, exclamation marks, corners, and hair-covered furniture pieces each become sculptures that are slightly out of focus. In contrast to a contemporary art conversation weighed down by irony, strategy, and cool self-reflexivity, Artschwager’s new exhibition at the Contemporary foregrounds the artist’s sincere celebration of the experiential knowledge of objects and pictures and his patient passion for locating the body and soul of an image.

Image: Richard Artschwager, Climbing Boy, 1999, rubberized hair and masonite, 59 x 48 x 2 1/2 inches. © Richard Artschwager. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Richard Artschwager: Hair is curated by Anthony Huberman and organized by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

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