[Various situated works by Daniel Buren (2009), MDF, Alupanel, vinyl, & paint.]
Daniel Buren’s second exhibition at Bortolami Gallery—“To Cut Out: Situated Works 1969-2009”—will be up through December 22nd. This conceptual artist—most often classified as an Abstract Minimalist—has challenged the accepted canon and prescribed experience of art since the mid-1960s. To this end, he has coined a number of neologisms that have redefined art.
“Work in Situ” is work made for a particular site, for a particular time, and exhibited in this particular site—thereby not germane to another place. Buren has identified as an artist living and working in situ. From his perspective, this indicates a concept going far beyond painting, sculpture, and other media—emphasizing art as an experience, life, or weltanschauung.
“Situated Work” is that inspired by a particular location, but made with the intention that the very same elements of the original work can be reinstalled in different sites following a series of rules—evolving each time in response to the venue. Correspondingly, the venue is altered by the work. This includes Buren’s works from 1969 found in this show.
“Cabane Éclatée” or “exploded cabin” is a painting environment that has been “exploded” by turning a would-be two-dimensional work into a disparate three dimensional encounter. These evolved into the colored Plexi works that Buren has shown internationally in site-specific installations for two decades—and outside Bortolami in 2007. They have also snowballed into the “Zigzag” sculptures made of MDF to join Buren’s creative aggregate.
“Visual Tool” functions as a standard or measurement unit of formal properties in Buren’s work—an intended sign serving as a constant within wildly variable parameters and juxtapositions of any and all “in situ” and “situated work” accomplished by the artist since 1965.
When Buren created a sculpture in the great courtyard of Paris’ Palais Royal in 1986, he triggered an intense debate over the integration of contemporary art and historic buildings. But then Buren—like many in the French intelligentsia was highly affected by the outbreak of France’s May 1968 worker-student rebellion emerging out of the Sorbonne extension in Nanterre. Very little of cultural import was left static in its wake and nothing remained sacred. Buren himself was influenced by deconstructionist philosophies that gained ground in the aftermath. He began creating unsolicited public art works with striped awning canvas—inviting viewers to analyze traditional artistic boundaries and ideas. Hundreds of striped “panels” appeared around Paris, and later in more than 100 stations of the Métropolitain—forcing a public appraisal of artistic boundaries through this “extra-institutional art.” In another burst of “guerrilla installation,” Buren used stripes to block the entrance of the gallery conducting his first solo exhibition.
Amazingly—despite periodic controversy—Buren has deftly managed to balance his audacious interventions and philosophies concerning art with the milieu of the museum and gallery system. Indeed, there has been much demand by that system to show his art. Buren deserves his place with “Institutional Critique” colleagues Michael Asher, MacArthur recipient Fred Wilson, Marcel Broodthaers (1924-1976) of the Groupe Surréaliste-revolutionnaire, performance artist Andrea Fraser, and installation artist Hans Haake—all of whom comprehensively critiqued the structure and very assumptions of institutions within the art arena.
Buren’s work has been exhibited in the following venues: Palazzo Grassi (Venice), Armory Center for the Arts (Pasadena), Neues Museum (Nuremberg), Documenta (Kassel), Place de la Justice (Brussels), the Guggenheim, Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Venice Biennale, Lyon City Hall, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, ICA Nagoya, and Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo).
To Cut Out: Situated Works (1969-2009)
By Daniel Buren
Through December 22, 2009
510 West 25th Street, New York City 10001