Works by masters of 20th century art on view at Feedback

On view at the Centre is a large mural work by Sol LeWitt, one of the maximum exponents of conceptual art who died last Sunday in New York. In Feedback, one of its opening exhibitions, LABoral Centre for Art and Creative Industries features some of the pieces by the great masters of 20th century art which laid the foundations for the present-day art creation.

Published: Apr 10, 2007

Feedback, conceived expressly for the opening of LABoral as an one-off show of seminal milestones in electronic and digital art. Far from limiting themselves to attention-grabbing works, the exhibition curators, Christiane Paul, from the Whitney Museum, and Jemima Rellie, from Tate Modern, with advisory input from the professor of the Lancaster University, Charlie Gere, explored their historical precedents and established points of connection with Dada, Fluxus and conceptual art. The underlying idea is to show the influence of these works today.

That is the case ofWall Drawing #305 (1977), one of the largest mural works made by the US sculptor and drawing artist Sol LeWitt, the maximum exponent of conceptual art, who died last Sunday in New York at the age of 78. Wall Drawing #305 was first drawn by LeWitt himself and Jo Watanabe, in the Art & Architecture building, Yale University, in 1977, using a set of instructions also used at LABoral for the installation of the work.

Sol LeWitt is a pioneering artist of both Minimalism and Conceptualism. One of LeWitts most famous means of make art is in the form of sets of instructions that can be executed by others. He has been quoted as saying that the idea becomes a machine that makes the art,? a statement that connects him not just to Conceptualism, but also to work made using algorithmic procedures on computers, though LeWitts own work has never involved such means. LeWitt is recognised as one of the most important artists of his generation and he has shown all over the world since his first retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1978  9.

Work by Robert Rauschenberg is also on view at LABoral with his piece Open Score (1966), an 11 min. DVD consisting of a live tennis game played with rackets that had FM radio transmitters embedded in them. Open Score was perhaps one of the most memorable and successful performances by Rauschenberg, confirming the artist?s status as a highly innovative artist boldly experimenting with new forms of thinking and creating art. Rauschenberg was one of the first artists to incorporate technology into his work and in 1966?together with Billy Klüver, Fred Waldhauer, and Robert Whitman?he founded Experiments in Art and Technology to facilitate the collaboration between artists and engineers. His work is included in virtually every important museum and international collection of contemporary art.

Marcel Duchamp's colour discs, the film Ein lichtspiel schwarz weiss grau by the Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy, or an interactive video work by the Korean artist Nam June Paik are other seminal works at the Centre. Marcel Duchamp, the father of conceptual art, is considered, together with Picasso and Matisse, one of the great masters of 20th century art, and his influence is still recognisable today. Initially influenced by Post-Impressionism, he soon became interested in Cubism and Futurism. Feedback shows his Rotoreliefs (1965), a work consisting of six cardboard discs, printed on both sides with lithographic drawings. Ten of the images were originally designed for Man Ray and Marc Allegret?s 1926 film Anemic Cinema. The original idea was that they would be played on a record turntable at 33 revolutions per minute, to give the viewer an illusion of depth. The Rotoreliefs are an example of Duchamp's critical investigation of opticality.

Ein Lichtspiel schwarz weiss grau, from 1930, is a 5 min. 25 sec. DVD and perhaps Moholy-Nagy?s best known film work, and a key work in the history of kinetic and even new media art, and, arguably, one of the most important works of art of its period. First conceived by Moholy-Nagy in the early 1920s and constructed between 1928 and 1930, it required a number of collaborators to get fully realised. Light Space Modulator was exhibited in 1930 at an exhibition of the work of the German Werkbund in Paris. As an object, it is a complex and extremely beautiful arrangement of metal, plastic, and glass elements, many of which can move, driven by an electric motor, and are surrounded by arrangements of coloured electric lights.

László Moholy-Nagy was a painter, photographer, sculptor, typographer and designer, as well as a professor in the German Bauhaus and Director of the short-lived New Bauhaus in Chicago. He was also one of the most influential artists of the early 20th century, especially for those working across different media and disciplines.

Within the context of kinetic art, Tokyo Gal (1978), by Jean Tinguely, is known for its robust humour. It consists of a powered flywheel, a radio set, and feathers. Tinguely's work, also owing much to his interest in Dada and other early avant-garde movements, shows a strong sense of curiosity for the possibilities of using electric motors to make elements of his sculptures move, often at great speed.

Jean Tinguely started out as a department store window dresser, then studied art in Basel, where he discovered the work of Dadaist artists such as Kurt Schwitters and Paul Klee, as well as those connected with the Bauhaus. By the mid-1940s he started to experiment with electric motors to make elements of his sculptures move at high speed. By the mid-1960s, Tinguely achieved an international reputation and he participated in a number of Documentas from then onwards. His work has been exhibited in renowned galleries all over the world, including a major retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1988.

Nam June Paik is another of the great masters with work in Feedback through his piece Participation TV (1969, replica 1984). an interactive video work in which a sound-frequency amplifier and two microphones are connected to a television. When a microphone is used, the coloured lines in the middle of the TV screen warp according to the type and volume of noise made. Participation TVcreates an aesthetic discourse out of television and the moving image, and transforms the relationship of the viewer to the medium. It demonstrates how interactions with new technologies can offer new visual experiences.

Nam June Paik is considered by many to be the father of video art. In the 1960s he became involved with the neo-dada group Fluxus, which had been inspired by the work of Cage. He exhibited widely, was given a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1982, and represented Germany at the 1993 Venice Biennale, along with Hans Haacke. He also made many public works, including his media tower The More The Better at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

Feedbackstrives to avoid the construction of a static 'historical' show and to create a network of connections that critically explores the role of responsiveness in relation to technologies and how the latter have changed cultural life and the social fabric.

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