Since the 1960s, Nicola L. has occupied a unique position through her interdisciplinary practice. She creates works that are thematically connected but take on many different forms and formats, from performance to film to domestic objects. Her exhibition at SculptureCenter is the artist’s first institutional survey, including works from her wide-reaching oeuvre from the late 1960s to 2000s, showing her “functional art” alongside her paintings and collages, as well as video.
In the 1960s, Nicola L. worked as an artist between Ibiza and Paris, connecting with other key figures exploring Pop, including Yves Klein, Marta Minujín, and Alberto Greco. In the late 1970s, she moved to New York City, where she currently resides in the Chelsea Hotel. Nicola L.’s work takes up notions of skin and surface, often breaking apart representations of the body and turning them into furniture-like objects and vice versa. Dressers, lamps, sofas, and other items resembling human forms comprise her functional objects. This body of work appears as a cast of characters; physically confronting their human counterparts as they open and close, turn off and on, and store personal items. Her series of Penetrable works, initially conceived to be entered or worn by viewers and/or performers, extends the body’s exterior, skin, into vinyl and textile casings that enclose single or multiple bodies within another layer of material. An emphasis on superficial coverings and caricaturized anthropomorphic objects ties into Nicola L.’s longstanding interests in feminism and in interrogating constructions of subjectivity.
Nicola L. (French, born 1937 in Mazagan, Morocco; lives and works in New York) studied at the Académie Julian followed by the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. Her solo exhibitions have been held at Elga Wimmer PCC, New York (2016, 2015); Broadway 1602, New York (2013); Cat-Berro Galerie, Paris (2008); Wooster Projects, New York (2001); Florida International University, Miami (1986); Thread Waxing Space, New York (1986); Le Magasin, Grenoble (1986); and Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris (1969). Notable group exhibitions include The World Goes Pop, Tate Modern, London (2016); A Modest Proposal, Hauser & Wirth, New York (2016); Liverpool Biennial (2014); artevida, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (2014); re.act.feminism #2, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona (2012); La Bienal de la Habana (2012); elles@centrepompidou, Paris (2009); The Death of the Audience, Vienna Secession (2009); Aimer, travailler, exister, MAMCO, Geneva (2004); and Grandes Femmes, Petits Formats, Galerie Iris Clert, Paris (1974). Since the late 1960s, Nicola L. has conceived group performances for experimental theaters and public spaces worldwide, including the Isle of Wight Pop Music Festival (1969) and the 12th Avant-Garde Festival, New York (1975). Her work is in the collections of Centre Pompidou, Paris; Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; FRAC Bretagne, Rennes; MAMCO, Geneva; Art & Design Atomium Museum, Brussels; and M HKA Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp, among other institutions.
Nicola L.: Works, 1968 to the Present is curated by SculptureCenter Curator Ruba Katrib and is accompanied by a fully-illustrated publication with essays by Katrib and Erica F. Battle, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)