Rebecca Warren: Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear? at Matthew Marks Gallery W. 24th St, New York, from September 13 to October 25, 2014
Warren’s first exhibition in the United States in four years features fifteen new sculptures made in her London studio. Most of them are slender totems sculpted in clay and cast in bronze. After their return from the foundry, Warren paints them in a variety of patterns and, in a few cases, adds small pompoms — a material familiar from her steel and wood sculptures but appearing here on totems for the first time. These decorative elements undercut the solemn connotations of bronze, as do the sculptures’ libidinous bulges. With titles that invoke artistic glory at one moment (Basquiat, Matisse, and Van Gogh) and comedy the next (Clouseau), these works subvert the legacy of sculptural heroism while seizing it for Warren’s own ends.
The largest of these totems is over nine feet tall, while the smaller bronze sculptures Cabbage I and Cabbage II resemble a pair of boulders hand-painted and topped with white pompoms. Completing the exhibition are three sculptures in steel and wood, two wall reliefs related to the artist’s earlier vitrine assemblages, and a third vertical sculpture that almost matches the totems in height.
Rebecca Warren (b. 1965) has had solo exhibitions at the Kunsthalle, Zürich, the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and, most recently, the Kunstverein München in Munich. In 2010 she had simultaneous exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, and the following year her work was included in the Venice Biennale. In 2006 she was nominated for the Turner Prize