Walter De Maria: Idea to Action to Object




If the Large Earth Sculpture is an expression of myself only . . . then it is a failure. It must express the feelings of most of the people, not only in Germany but in the world. It must have universal interest and meaning.
—Walter De Maria, on the Olympic Mountain Project, 1971

An exhibition of over forty works on paper and several related sculptures by the late Walter De Maria. The drawings, sourced from the Estate of Walter De Maria, are on view for the first time, revealing various unrealized projects and philosophical explorations, and suggesting a tender humanity behind De Maria’s geometric precision.

In De Maria’s wide-ranging oeuvre, objects emerge from a transitional zone between idea and action. Like sounds coming from an instrument, shapes appear, overlap, and repeat in infinite permutations—drawing attention to the limits of gallery spaces, prioritizing bodily awareness, and examining the relationship between the relative and the absolute.

The title of this exhibition comes from a sketchbook page, Abstract Concept (c. 1960–61), in which De Maria mapped out a cyclical relationship between a work’s conception, actualization, and perceived meaning—a cycle that he believed to be rooted in the real (as opposed to illusory) world. Themes of causality and performance run throughout the drawings, providing more intimate backstories for his minimalist sculptures and installations. The early editioned sculpture Ball Drop (1961–64) comprises a tall plywood box with two square holes cut into its face. A wooden sphere sits in a compartment framed by the lower hole. When it was originally shown at the 9 Great Jones Street gallery in 1965, the viewer was invited to take the ball and drop it through the top hole, causing a sharp bang. Here, however, the ball remains static, charged with potential energy, like the solid stainless-steel ball in 14-Sided Open Polygon (1984).

Duration 24 January 2019 - 09 March 2019
Times Tuesday–Saturday 10–6
Cost Free
Venue Gagosian Gallery (Grosvenor Hill)
Address 20 Grosvenor Hill, London, W1K 3QD
Contact / london@gagosian.com / www.gagosian.com

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