Dia Art Foundation Opens OPUS+ Solo Exhibition by Jean-luc Mouléne

Dia Art Foundation presents Opus + One, the first comprehensive museum exhibition in North America devoted to the work of Paris-based artist Jean-Luc Moulène. On view December 17, 2011 – December 31, 2012.

Commissioned by Dia, Opus + One will comprise objects and images created over the past two decades and will be on view at Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries, in New York’s Hudson Valley for one year. Organized by Dia curator Yasmil Raymond in collaboration with the artist, the exhibition will be accompanied by a new work commissioned for the Dan Flavin Art Institute, in Bridgehampton, NY, and a major publication.

Opus + One unites two bodies of work: thirty-five objects from the ongoing series Opus (1995¬–present), and the monumental photographic essay La Vigie (2004–2011). The title derives from the Latin word Opus, which Moulène designates as the encompassing term for his three-dimensional work. The suffix, “+ One” comes from the notation of recurrence in mathematics, yet it also reflects Moulène’s interest in the idioms of advertising and capitalist tactics, as well as his conception of the viewer as a hypothetical consumer.

In the Opus series, Moulène employs a diverse selection of natural and manufactured materials—bronze, cardboard, cement, fiberglass, and wood, among others—to construct a range of three-dimensional forms, some handmade and some industrially manufactured. Several works within the group resemble a scale model or maquette in their pragmatism and unfinished quality, while others are life-size references to the human body or animal organs. Taken together, Opus undoes predictable classifications of figuration and abstraction and complicates the viewer’s impulse to search for representational or metaphorical identity in objects.

La Vigie centers on a single subject: the persistent Paulownia Tomentosa, which grows in the cracks of sidewalk and buildings throughout the Parisian urban landscape. Comprising 299 photographs, printed in color and in black and white, the series chronicles the evolving appearance of the plant over seven years, as well as an array of quotidian incidents that transpire in the neighborhood that surrounds the French Ministry for the Economy, Industry, and Employment where the plant grows. La Vigie reveals an ever-shifting landscape, including the physical evidence of antiterrorism vigilance, and demonstrates Moulène’s interest in politics and strategies of resistance. It also reflects the important role that photography plays in the artist’s practice as a method of surveying and annotating, and extends his investigations on the classification, production, and circulation of images and objects.

Recognized for his meticulous and eclectic creative output, Moulène moves fluidly between three-dimensional work, photography, drawing, and printed matter. His career cannot be easily divided into periods or a single narrative but rather can be conceived, as he has said, as “one continuous performance” in which the reality of his surroundings are collected, rearranged, and reframed. Dia’s exhibition will reveal the wide-ranging nature of his practice, as well as the diverse aesthetic strategies that he has adopted over the years. As Raymond states, “Moulène’s multidisciplinary practice, which spans over three decades, has focused on reinventing the visual language of art. By freeing it from consensus and literalness, his definition of art carries objectives beyond art itself.”

Dia’s exhibition advances its legacy of commissioning projects and exhibitions from midcareer artists that encourage significant explorations in new directions within the artist’s practice. It continues in the spirit of the program presented by Dia in New York City from 1987–2004, and projects by artists including: Robert Gober (1992–93); Katarina Fritsch (1993–94); Jessica Stockholder (1995–96); Thomas Schütte (1998–99); Rosemarie Trockel (2002–2004); and Pierre Huyghe (2003–2004), among others. It also follows the commissioning of major new works shown at Dia:Beacon by Vera Lutter (2005–6); An-My Lê (2006-2008); Tacita Dean (2008); Zoe Leonard (2008–11); and Koo Jeong A (2010–11).

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