Spring 2003 Talks
Thomas Hirschhorn (b.1957, Bern, Switzerland) creates sculptures and installations that draw from a wide range of political, academic, and social disciplines. Known for utilizing raw materials such as packing tape, cardboard, plywood, tin foil, and philosophy manuscripts, Hirschhorn creates carefully staged tableaux that critique the age of globalization and consumer excess.
In much of his work, Hirschhorn is attracted to power structures and systems of order in an allegorical as well as literal sense. Recently, Hirschhorn transformed Barbara Gladstone’s Gallery in New York into a packing-tape maze of caverns and recesses. Entitled Cavemanman, the space wound up and around, providing artifacts and tokens of information such as posters, bookshelves, and “thought bombs” in mailing tubes. Recalling the infamous Al Qaeda underground networks as well as the cave paintings at Lascaux, Hirschhorn designed a primitive space loaded with tools for discovery.
In this talk Hirschhorn shares his ideas regarding the state of contemporary art and culture.
Look into the world of Takashi Murakami (b.1962, Tokyo, Japan), and you will find an array of happy flowers, dancing mushrooms, and twirling garlands. Characterized by horizontality, bright acrylic patterns, and flat silver backgrounds, Murakami’s artworks draw from a wide range of sources including Japanese Nihon-ga paintings of the 19th century, Andy Warhol’s Factory, Walt Disney animation, and the films of Steven Spielberg.
Murakami’s murals, sculptures, and large-scale installations make up a fraction of his sprawling efforts to bridge high art with mass marketing. In 1995 he founded the Hiropon Factory in Asaka City, Saitama, a workshop that fabricates his many works with the aid of several young artist-assistants. In addition to his own work, the factory fosters the careers of emerging artists and contains a gift shop that manufactures t-shirts, dolls, posters, key rings, watches, and more. The Hiropon Factory revolutionized traditional art-making methods by defining itself as a studio that produces culture rather than objects.
This September, the Public Art Fund is working with Takashi Murakami to transform New York’s Rockefeller Center into a spectacular mushroom-filled fantasyland. On April 15, Murakami will talk about this project as well as past and future commissions.
Vanessa Beecroft (b.1969, Genoa, Italy) stages captivating performances that juxtapose nude models or military officers with art-going communities of spectators. Her works have garnered international acclaim for their daring presentation, and for the critical implications they make about our voyeuristic culture and obsession with image. While many consider her performances a mere attempt to shock, Beecroft follows in the tradition of feminist artists like Carolee Schneemann and Hannah Wilke who use their bodies and personal histories to confront taboos of women’s roles in society. Beecroft’s works examine the external qualities of a woman’s body as a focal point of attention in the realms of history, art, and fashion. Rather than censoring the nude, Beecroft’s living portraits flaunt it, reversing the traditional sense of shame and guilt associated with nakedness and placing it on the spectator, who is confronted by a sea of breasts, legs, and faces.
Public Art Fund Talks are organized by the Public Art Fund in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School.
The New School