Phallic gourds replace iPad tortoises on roof of Aspen Art Museum
If You Go …
What: Lutz Bacher, “Knots” and “How Will I Find You;” Sarah Lucas, “Florian” and “Kevin”
Where: Aspen Art Museum
When: Through Jan. 25
More information: www.aspenartmuseum.org
A pair of suggestive concrete sculptures of squashes have filled the space once occupied by three much-ballyhooed iPad-clad tortoises in the rooftop sculpture garden of the Aspen Art Museum, in the new downtown building’s first exhibition changes since it opened in August.
The cast concrete sculptures by London-based artist Sarah Lucas, named “Florian” and “Kevin,” are one of two new exhibitions now on display at the museum. Work by Lutz Bacher — replacing museum architect Shigeru Ban’s “Humanitarian Architecture” display in the second-floor gallery — also opened this week. Bacher’s show includes 29 ink-on-paper drawings made in Aspen and a site-specific installation sculpture of discarded plaster molds and casings.
Both the Lucas and Bacher shows will be on display through Jan. 25.
If you look at the immense concrete gourds on the rooftop and see penises, don’t fret. It’s not a Freudian glitch in your dirty mind. It’s the artist’s intent.
“Both of these squashes have been aptly named with boy’s names and resemble parts of the male anatomy — they’re meant to,” curator Courtenay Finn said during a walk-through of the new shows Tuesday. “She uses absurdity and humor and an amazing playfulness to talk about things that are uncomfortable.”
Museum patrons are invited to sit or recline — but not to stand — on the massive sculptures. (Given the museum’s boxy stature, they’re also likely to elicit at least a few “Dick in a Box” quips.)
Finn noted that the massive scale of Lucas’ sculptures is diminished by their positioning on the rooftop, below Aspen Mountain.
“Once we planted them here in our own sculpture garden, they actually seemed smaller in scale,” Finn said. “I think that has to do with the relationship Aspen has with scale, with this beautiful mountain, and the landscape here.”
Lucas, who came to prominence in the Young British Artists movement in the early 1990s alongside Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, is known for using images from sports, pop culture and media to address class and gender issues along with using food and household objects as playful stand-ins for body parts.
Inside the museum’s largest gallery space, the walls are now lined with Bacher’s “Knots” series of drawings. The New York-based artist created the series in a single sitting during a visit to Aspen in 2010, when her husband — a scientist — was working at the Aspen Center for Physics. They depict various knots, which Bacher used to navigate a difficult personal period.
“(It is) like you’re literally trying to find your way in the drawing,” Bacher said in an interview with Aspen Art Museum CEO Heidi Zuckerman, printed in the show’s gallery guide. “Each Aspen drawing being like a searching line that doesn’t know where it’s going. It’s not a knowing drawing, it’s finding out where it’s going as it’s going.”
Bacher’s sculpture in the center of the gallery, titled “How Will I Find You,” follows a similar theme. At first glance, it appears to be a pile of nondescript plaster pieces. But circling it and taking a closer look, you’ll find that Bacher has thoughtfully positioned molds and casings of objects such as a jack-o’-lantern, a rooster, an angel, a cat, a Pillsbury doughboy and various tchotchkes.
She acquired the discarded plaster pieces from a tractor-trailer company in New Jersey and built them into the sculpture on-site at the museum, positioning the plaster molds to allow discoveries upon close inspection from viewers.
The remaining inaugural exhibitions at the new Aspen Art Museum will be swapped out for new shows in coming months. Tomma Abts’s “Mainly Drawings” and Rosemarie Trockel’s “Less Sauvage Than Others” will both close after Sunday. A joint exhibition of work by David Hammons and Yves Klein closes Nov. 30. “With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress),” an outdoor sculpture on the sidewalk level, will come down Jan. 25.
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