Gagosian London presents an exhibition of three sculptures by Robert Therrien. The artist’s work has clear links to the generation of Pop and Conceptual artists that preceded him, while attesting to his affinities for folk culture, cartoons, and American design. Working in two and three dimensions with great attention to the effects of scale, he transforms elements from the culture of everyday life into artworks that evoke classical archetypes.
Given its evident concern with childhood narratives, his art invites psychological interpretation while remaining firmly objective due to its uncanny proximity to the real, and its relationship with the minimal. No title (table leg) (1993) was a significant breakthrough, marking a shift from less representational works. This was followed by Under the Table (1994), an enormous wooden kitchen table and chair set, which further defined this pivotal moment in his development. By recreating everyday objects with veracity but on a giant scale, he dramatically altered the relationship of viewer to artwork.
In sculptures, paintings, and drawings, Therrien continuously recycles and recasts his canon of common objects and images to create new enigmas. Here, variations on three of these persistent motifs – stacked pots and pans, double-hung “Dutch” doors, and kasina discs employed in Buddhist meditation—comprise a puzzling domestic scenario. In No title (pots and pans II) (2008), twenty-five dramatically enlarged pots, pans, and lids are stacked into a teetering tower almost three meters high. Although the extraordinary scale of each element is immediately obvious, the perfect replication of their handles and metallic sheen prolongs the illusion. No title (black Dutch door) (1993–2013), a monochromatic abstraction of a farmhouse staple, evokes Minimalist tropes in its binary division of space, while also memorialising a defining feature of Therrien’s childhood home. No title (disc cart II) (2006–08) is a metal cart filled with nine colourfully painted renditions of the discs used as objects of focus in Buddhist meditation. Each circle has a drawn or silkscreened image at its centre: a church steeple, a coffin, a duck bill. A tenth disc—to be interchanged over the course of the exhibition—hangs on the wall like a tondo, at once spiritual object and secular artwork. In his fertile re-imaginings of the ready-made, Therrien continues to render the familiar uncanny.
Robert Therrien was born in Chicago in 1947, and lives and works in Los Angeles. Selected solo museum exhibitions include Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1984); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (1991–92); Contemporary Arts Centre, Cincinnati (1997); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2000, SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Mexico, through 2001); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2007); Kunstmuseum Basel Kupferstichkabinett (2008); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2010); De Pont Museum, Tilburg, The Netherlands (2011); Tate Liverpool (2011); The Broad Contemporary Art Museum at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2011); and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (2013). Public collections include MoMA and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; MCA, Chicago; LACMA, MoCA, and Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate Gallery, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris. Since 2009, Therrien’s work has toured with the “ARTIST ROOMS” collection of international contemporary art.
Robert Therrien – Gagosian London – until 30 May 2015