Luxembourg & Dayan announces Word by Word, a survey exhibition of artworks from the ’60s to present day that feature text as image and present language as an artistic medium. Curated by Francesco Bonami, it draws together works by Carl Andre, Nanni Balestrini, Joseph Beuys, Alighiero Boetti, Will Boone, Mark Flood, Marine Hugonnier, Joseph Kosuth, Barbara Kruger, Glenn Ligon, Richard Prince, Tim Rollins & K.O.S., Ed Ruscha, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Betty Tompkins, Ben Vautier, Lawrence Weiner, Christopher Wool and more, to present a short history of pictorial language.
Text has played a vital part in the developments of twentieth century art; from the collaged inclusions of newspapers in Cubist canvases, through René Magritte’s lessons in the opacity of language, Marcel Duchamp’s anti-retinal explorations of art’s frontiers and Pop Art’s appropriation of advertisement slogans and comic strip. The role of words in art has gained increasing complexity since the late ’60s when language literally supplanted images, reaching a conceptual apogee in those dematerialised works that demanded the viewer be a reader, and vice versa. Word by Word celebrates the visual poetry that has thrived over the past fifty years in this slippage between semiotics and aesthetics to involve the viewer in a conversation across time and continent conducted through the silent cacophony of reverberating words.
The exhibition speaks through a diversity of media, from Beuys’ iconic chalked blackboards to Ligon’s recent coal dusted interrogations of language, encompassing newspaper, book pages, vinyl letter- ing, paint, ink and graphite. Its graphics range from print to écriture, taking in cursive script, upper-case communication, hand- and spray-painted lettering, collaged newspapers depicted magazines. From the text landscapes of Andre, in which words become modular units carrying both pattern and poem; to Kosuth’s manifestations of art as “itself philosophy made concrete”; Boetti’s exquisitely drawn mag- azine covers; Kruger’s commanding conjunction of cut up phrases and images; the collaged poetry of Balestrini; Prince’s verbal jokes and visual puns; and the fine line trod between legibility and abstrac- tion in Will Boone’s compressed and fraying words, Word by Word will explore painting converged into poetry and poetry converged into painting, and the myriad complexions that lie in between.
Francesco Bonami was born in Florence in 1955, moving to New York in 1986 where he has lived since. A writer, critic and former painter, he is most celebrated for his role as a curator. From 1995 to 2014, Bonami was the Artistic Director of the Fondazione San- dretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin; from 2004 to 2008, he was the artistic director of Cen- tro di Arte Contemporanea Villa Manin; and from 1999 to 2009 he was the Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. His many major exhibitions include the 75th Whitney Biennial of American Art (2010), the 50th edition of the Biennale di Venezia for Visual Arts, Dreams and Conflicts — The Dictator- ship of the Viewer (2003) and Manifesta 3, Borderline Syndrome in Ljubljana (2000).
Word By Word – Luxembourg & Dayan – until 5 September 2015