The Impermanent Display I

Maja Hoffmann / LUMA Foundation collection

The Tower
Main Gallery
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The exhibition brings together a selection of important artworks from the Maja Hoffmann / LUMA Foundation collection. These works represent the broad-ranging subjects of the collection and the ways in which it has been expanded by actively engaging with artists to realize innovative concepts. The selection focuses on practices that exemplify the close bonds between the LUMA Foundation and Maja Hoffmann with key contemporary figures. Encompassing installation, photography, sculpture, and painting, the artworks on display allude to the important transformations currently taking place, driven by the impact of socio-political shifts and crises.

The Impermanent Display is conceived as a testament to the changing nature of the world and the emergence of new narratives. Radical societal shifts and the dissolution of myths are themes that characterize the exhibition. Conviviality, playfulness, and sharing of experience are also underlying subjects. Primarily concerned with capturing and understanding the recent and current moment of transition, a number of works in the exhibition represent the tensions between recent past, present, and future. Others explore personal dimensions and represent the articulation of powerful ideas and concepts, reflecting on the relationship between impermanent phenomena and events.

The Impermanent Display similarly reflects a personal journey through the work of artists and the commitment of the LUMA Foundation and Maja Hoffmann in supporting diverse practices and visionary thought processes. The Impermanent Display is a dedication to the fragility of ideas and the importance of encouraging the production of imaginative and inventive structures and forms.

Marc Domage

Artists biographies

Etel Adnan

Etel Adnan (1925-2021) was a Lebanese-American artist, poet and essayist, writing in French and English. Born in Beirut, she moved to Paris after a long period of residence in California.

She began painting in the 1960s and her work has received international recognition since dOCUMENTA(13), in 2012. In 2014, she was invited to the biennial of the Whitney Museum (New York) and the Qatar museum of modern art, the Mathaf, dedicated a retrospective to her, organized by Hans Ulrich Obrist. Since then, numerous museums (Bern, Luxembourg, San Francisco, Aspen, Lille, etc.) and art centres have devoted exhibitions to her. Adnan’s works appear in numerous collections, including the MNAM-Center Pompidou, Paris; Mathaf, Doha, Qatar; MoMA, New York; M +, Hong Kong; Royal Jordanian Museum, Amman; the Museum of Modern Art, Tunis; Sursock Museum, Beirut; Institute of the Arab World, Paris; British Museum, London; Tate Gallery, London; World Bank Collection, Washington D.C.; National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington D.C; as well as in many private collections.

Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus is one of the most original and influential photographers of the twentieth century. She studied photography with Berenice Abbott, Alexey Brodovitch, and Lisette Model and had her first published photographs appear in Esquire in 1960. In 1963 and 1966 she was awarded John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships and was one of three photographers whose work was the focus of New Documents, John Szarkowski’s landmark exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in 1967. Arbus’s depictions of couples, children, female impersonators, nudists, New York City pedestrians, suburban families, circus performers, and celebrities, among others, span the breadth of the postwar American social sphere and constitute a diverse and singularly compelling portrait of humanity. A year after her death, her work was selected for inclusion in the Venice Biennale, the first time any photographer had been so honored.

In the ensuing fifty years, major traveling museum retrospectives have been mounted by the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1972), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2003), the Jeu de Paume, Paris (2011) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2016), and the Art Gallery of Ontario (2020).

Books devoted to her work include: Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph (1972), Magazine Work(1984), Untitled (1995), Revelations (2003), The Libraries (2004), A Chronology (2011), Silent Dialogues(2015), In the Beginning (2016), A Box of Ten Photographs (2018), and Documents (2022).

In addition to the museums mentioned above, significant collections of her work can be found in numerous institutions throughout the world. The Bibliothèque Nationale de France was an early collector, and the Centre Pompidou followed.

Alighiero Boetti

Alighiero Boetti was born in Turin, Italy, in 1940. Although not formally trained in art, Boetti was preoccupied with the theory of creativity from an early age. Traveling to Afghanistan at the beginning of the 1970s, he was introduced to the traditional craft of embroidery, which marked a turning point in the artist’s career. His fundamental concern with the relationship between “order” and “disorder” is manifesting in his grid structures, derived from the “magical squares,” that feature sayings and aphorisms that stem from cultural, philosophical, mathematical and linguistic contexts. Having shown in Milan and Turin, Boetti had his first US solo exhibition in New York at John Weber Gallery in 1973. He continued to show throughout Italy and the United States until his premature death in 1994. He has been honored posthumously with several large-scale exhibitions.

Hans-Peter Feldmann

Hans-Peter Feldmann is a passionate collector of images and stories, an original thinker and a conceptual artist. Born in 1941 in Germany, he lives and works in Düsseldorf. Since the sixties, he has been collecting, producing, and exhibiting photographs. His relationship to the art world has been eccentric. In 1980, he destroyed most of his work and went into early retirement, only to pick up, a decade later, more or less exactly where he left off. Feldmann’s career, whose unique style recontextualizes everyday objects, cataloguing the commonplace and giving it new meanings, has had a major influence on two generations of artists.

Urs Fischer

Urs Fischer mines the potential of materials—from clay, steel, and paint to bread, dirt, and produce—to create works that disorient and bewilder. Through scale distortions, illusion, and the juxtaposition of common objects, his sculptures, paintings, photographs, and large-scale installations explore themes of perception and representation while maintaining a witty irreverence and mordant humour. Fischer began his artistic career studying photography at the Schule für Gestaltung in Zurich. He later lived in London and Los Angeles, and shared a studio with Rudolf Stingel in both Berlin and New York. Themes of absence and presence, as well as the processes of art production, pervade his work.

In Stuhl mit (1995–2001), bulbous, fabric-covered legs merge with a wooden chair, and in Studies for chairs for individual seating positions (1993), the absence of a human body is suggested by a sawdust and rubber mold draped over the furniture. Food is also a major element in Fischer’s work. Rotting, melting, and crumbling, and placed in juxtaposition with permanent materials like metal, bricks, and mortar. Rotten Foundation (1998) comprises a brick structure built on a foundation of rotting produce; Untitled (Bread House) (2004–05), a Swiss chalet constructed entirely of loaves of bread, was left to be eaten by parakeets; and in the Problem Paintings (2011–), portraits mounted on aluminum panels are obscured by images of eggs, peppers, and kiwis, as well as twisted bolts and half-smoked cigarettes. In 2009 Fischer had his first large-scale solo presentation in an American museum, at New York’s New Museum, the exhibition featured a series of immersive installations and hallucinatory environments including city-scapes and mirrored labyrinths. At the Venice Biennale in 2011, his wax copy of Giambologna’s late-sixteenth-century sculpture Rape of the Sabine Women slowly melted, looming over another candle depicting an ordinary man wearing glasses and a sport coat. The candle works, which Fischer has produced since 2001, attest to his mastery of entropy, as well as his simultaneous incorporation and rejection of tradition. In 2013 for his exhibition Yes at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA Los Angeles, 1,400 volunteers produced unfired clay sculptures in the weeks leading up to the exhibition.

Katharina Fritsch

Katharina Fritsch’s sculpture often begins with an archetypal image, which she subverts with shifts in scale and color. Madonnenfigur / Madonna (1987) is based on a small statuette of the Virgin Mary that Fritsch enlarged to her own height and painted a vibrant yellow. Other sculptures depict life-size figures as different characters and types, all male, including a chef, a giant, and an art dealer. But Fritsch is perhaps best known for her uncanny animal sculptures. Rattenkönig/ Rat-King (1991–93) is a circle of two dozen gigantic rats, each nearly ten feet tall, with their tails tied in a massive knot at the center. Art historian Jean-Pierre Criqui has said of Fritsch’s animal sculptures, “The way the artist uses them, but also the situations in which she places them, gives them ambiguous powers at the intersection of several tendencies: humanity’s ancestral fears and superstitions, as expressed, for example, in tales and legends; the intensities of totemic thought and of its images; and the uncanny and Freudian dream study.” Typically each work is molded by hand, then cast in plaster, reworked, and then cast again in polyester. The polyester form is finished with a matte paint, which absorbs light, giving the sculpture’s surface a disorienting immaterial quality. “My sculptures can never be totally grasped, like a picture that has something unresolved about it,” Fritsch has explained. “They stay in your head like an enigma. That’s how life seems to me and that’s how I depict it.”

Fischli / Weiss

For more than thirty years, Peter Fischli and David Weiss collaborated on a body of work that combines, rearranges, or otherwise manipulates the mundane into something new and unexpected. Executed in a variety of media, including unfired clay, carved and painted polyurethane, photography, and video, their work playfully ignores the distinction between art and everything else. The duo is perhaps best known for their 1987 film The Way Things Go, in which a Rube Goldberg-like chain of events starring household objects and detritus unfolds in their studio, transforming these humble materials into something remarkable.

In their first collaborative work, Wurstserie (Sausage Series, 1979), Fischli
and Weiss transformed a bathroom shelf into a runway for fashionably attired sausages, and an unmade bed into an Alpine landscape. For Polyurethane Objects, begun in 1982, they used the same material Hollywood propmakers do to make meticulously carved and painted replicas of ordinary objects (a paint roller, a bottle of bleach, a few stray M&Ms, a cardboard box). Visible World (1986–2012) is a quasi-encyclopedic view of natural and built landscapes, from the commonplace to the extraordinary, made up of thousands of photographs made around the world by Fischli and Weiss over twenty-five years of travel.

The work of Peter Fischli (b. 1952) and David Weiss (1946–2012) has been the subject of large-scale surveys at numerous museums across Europe and North America, most recently in 2016 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Museo Jumex in Mexico City. Their work has been featured in documenta, Skulptur Projekte Münster, and six Venice Biennales, where they represented Switzerland in 1995 and were awarded the Golden Lion in 2003 for their installation Questions (1981–2002). Peter Fischli lives and works in Zurich.

Mike Kelley

Mike Kelley is widely considered one of the most influential artists of our time. Originally from a suburb outside of Detroit, Kelley attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, before moving to Southern California in 1976 to study at California Institute of the Arts from which he received an MFA in 1978. Kelley drew from a wide spectrum of high and low culture, and was known to scour flea markets for America’s cast-offs and leftovers.

Mining the banal objects of everyday life, Kelley elevated these materials to question and dismantle Western conceptions of contemporary art and culture. Starting out in the late 1970s, Kelley became known for performance and installation based works; he came to prominence in the 1980s with a series of sculptures composed of common craft materials and stuffed animals. His work later widened in scope and physical scale, exemplified by Educational Complex (1995), the Kandors series (1999 – 2011), Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction series (2000 – 2011), and the posthumously completed public work Mobile Homestead (2006 – 2013). These projects invoked a vast range of media and forms, illustrating the artist’s versatility and underscored a number of Kelley’s recurrent themes, such as repressed memory, sexuality, adolescence, class, and Americana. Throughout his career, Kelley also worked on curatorial projects, collaborated with many artists and musicians, and produced a formidable body of critical and creative writing.

Isa Genzken

Isa Genzken has long been considered one of Germany’s most important and influential contemporary artists. Born in Bad Oldesloe, Germany, Genzken studied at the renowned Kunstakademie Düsseldorf whose faculty at the time included Joseph Beuys, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh and Gerhard Richter. Since the 1970s, Genzken’s diverse practice has encompassed sculpture, photography, found-object installation, film, drawing and painting. Her work borrows from the aesthetics of Minimalism, punk culture and assemblage art to confront the conditions of human experience in contemporary society and the uneasy social climate of capitalism. Genzken is best known for her sculptures, gaining attention for her minimalist oriented Hyperbolos and Ellipsoids in the late 70s, and architecturally-inflected works such as her recent Epoxy resin windows and Skyscraper columns from the 90s.

Genzken’s practice is incredibly wideranging, but her work remains dedicated to challenging the viewer’s self-awareness by means of physically altering their perceptions, bringing bodies together in spaces and integrating elements of a mixed media into sculpture.
Inspired by the stark severity of modernist architecture and the chaotic energy of the city, Genzken’s work is continuously looking around itself, translating into three-dimensional form the way that art, architecture, design and media affects the experience of urban life, and the divides between public and private. There is an intuitive and consistent manner to Genzken’s work, not only in dramatising aspects of space and scale for the audience, but in creating new dialogues and contact with surfaces of material. The socio-political content is evident and central to her work. In 2017, Genzken was awarded the prestigious Goslarer Kaiserring (or Emperor’s Ring) by the city of Goslar, Germany.

Arthur Jafa

Arthur Jafa (b. 1960, Tupelo, Mississippi) is an artist, filmmaker and cinematographer. Across three decades, Jafa has developed a dynamic practice comprising films, artefacts and happenings that refer to and question the universal and specific articulations of Black being. Underscoring the many facets of Jafa’s practice is a recurring question: how can visual media, such as objects, static and moving images, transmit the equivalent “power, beauty and alienation” embedded within forms of Black music in US culture?

Jafa’s films have garnered acclaim at the Los Angeles, New York and Black Star Film Festivals and his artwork is represented in celebrated collections world- wide including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Tate, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The High Museum Atlanta, The Dallas Museum of Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Stedelijk, LUMA Foundation, The Perez Art Museum Miami, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among others.

Jafa has recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions of his work at the Pérez Art Museum Miami; the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives; Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and the Louisiana Museum of Art, Denmark. In 2019, he received the Golden Lion for the Best Participant of the 58th Venice Biennale “May You Live in Interesting Times.”

Paul McCarthy

Paul McCarthy is widely considered to be one of the most influential and groundbreaking contemporary American artists. Born in 1945, and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, he first established a multi-faceted artistic practice, which sought to break the limitations of painting by using unorthodox materials such as bodily fluids and food. He has since become known for visceral, often hauntingly humorous work in a variety of mediums–from performance, photography, film and video, to sculpture, drawing and painting.

During the 1990s, he extended his practice into installations and stand-alone sculptural figures, utilizing a range of materials such as fiberglass, silicone, animatronics and inflatable vinyl. Playing on popular illusions and cultural myths, fantasy and reality collide in a delirious yet poignant exploration of the subconscious, in works that simultaneously challenge the viewer’s phenomenological expectations.

Whether absent or present, the human figure has been a constant in his work, either through the artist‘s own performances or the array of characters he creates to mix high and low culture, and provoke an analysis of our fundamental beliefs. These playfully oversized characters and objects critique the worlds from which they are drawn: Hollywood, politics, philosophy, science, art, literature, and television. McCarthy’s work, thus, locates the traumas lurking behind the stage set of the American Dream and identifies their counterparts in the art historical canon.

McCarthy earned a BFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1969, and an MFA in multimedia, film and art from USC in 1973. For 18 years, he taught performance, video, installation, and art history in the New Genres Department at UCLA, where he influenced future generations of west coast artists and he has exhibited extensively worldwide. McCarthy’s work comprises collaborations with artist friends such as Mike Kelley and Jason Rhoades, as well as his son Damon McCarthy.

Michelangelo Pistoletto

Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933, Biella, Italy) is widely recognised as one of the most influential contemporary artists of his generation and a leading proponent of the Arte Povera movement. Since the 1960s his work has followed two profoundly linked paths, a body of conceptual sculpture grounded in the tenets of Arte Povera and an ongoing series of Mirror Paintings, comprising figurative, graphic or sculptural images applied to the surface of polished stainless steel. Representing his dual interest in conceptualism and figurative representation, together these bodies of work have earned Pistoletto enduring international recognition. Alongside this practice, Pistoletto is the founder of the Cittadellarte in Biella, an interdisciplinary laboratory that promotes the use of art to foster social change. Its primary mission is centred upon The Third Paradise, conceived in 2003 as the promise of a future realm in which nature and society will coexist in harmony.

The mirrored surface is instrumental to Pistoletto’s practice. The reflective plane of his paintings draws the viewer and their environment into the work, altering the fiction of the painted image as a frozen moment. An ardent advocate of the performative in art, Pistoletto’s work emphasises interactivity, spontaneity, the multiplicity of imaginative worlds, and an active relationship between artwork and spectator. The mirror creates a gateway for the viewer into the virtual space of the work, creating a portal between art and life. ‘The true protagonist’, he wrote of his mirror paintings in 1966, ‘was the relationship of instantaneousness that was created between the spectator, his own reflection, and the painted figure, in an ever-present movement that concentrated the past and the figure in itself to such an extent as to cause one to call their very existence into doubt: it was the dimension of time itself.

Rirkrit Tiravanija

Since the 1990s, Rirkrit Tiravanija (b. 1961, Buenos Aires, Argentina) has aligned his artistic production with an ethic of social engagement, often inviting viewers to inhabit and activate his work. Solo exhibitions include the ICA London (permanent installation), Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian, Washington D.C. (2019), the National Gallery of Singapore (2018); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2016); the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2015), the Kunsthalle Bielefeld (2010), the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel (2009), the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Serpentine Gallery in London (2005), as well as the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam (2004).

Tiravanija’s work has been recognized with numerous awards and grants including the 2010 Absolut Art Award, the 2004 Hugo Boss Prize awarded by the Guggenheim Museum, and the 2003 Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Lucelia Artist Award. Tiravanija lives and works in New York, Berlin, and Chiang Mai. Tiravanija is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts at Columbia University, and is a founding member and curator of Utopia Station, a collective project of artists, art historians, and curators. Tiravanija is also President of an educational-ecological project known as The Land Foundation, located in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and is part of a collective alternative space called VER in Bangkok.

Franz West

From abstract and interactive sculpture to furniture and collage, Franz West’s work possesses a character that is at once lighthearted and deeply philosophical. Belonging to a generation of artists exposed to the Actionist and Performance Art of the 1960s and 70s, West instinctively rejected the idea of a passive relationship between artwork and viewer. Opposed to the existential intensity requisite to his performative forebears (such as Actionism), he produced work that was vigorous and imposing yet unbounded and buoyant.

In 1973, he began creating compact, portable, mixed media sculptures called Passstücke (Adaptives). These “ergonomically inclined” objects were actualized as artworks only when touched, held, worn, carried, or otherwise physically or cognitively engaged. Transposing the concepts engendered by these formative works, he explored sculpture increasingly through the framework of the ongoing dialogue between viewers and objects, while probing the internal aesthetic relations between sculpture and painting.

Manipulating everyday materials and imagery in order to examine art’s relation to social experience, West revolutionized the interplay of concealment and exposure, action and reaction, both in and outside the gallery.

Public collections including Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate, London; Albertina, Vienna; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; and Museum of Modern Art, New York. He was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 54th Biennale di Venezia in 2011.

Christopher Wool

The core element of Christopher Wool’s (b. 1955) work is the process of painting itself, which he explores since his early years by reducing form and colour, experi- menting with different painting and more specifically on reproduction techniques: using silkscreen or pattern rollers, layering and erasing, covering certain motives with paint, then adding other layers on top. The range of techniques Wool has used over the years makes reference to processes and gestures that have marked contemporary art history. His complex work encourages the viewer to reflect on the physical qualities of paint, reproduction and to be aware of painting procedures and the essential elements of the medium: form, line and colour.


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