| עברית | foreword | about the exhibition | credits | home |      
 
 
   
   
  Contemporary Art
  European Art
  Arts of the Americas
  Oceanic Art
  African Art
  Asian Art
  Judaica
  Islamic Art
  Ancient Art
   

About the exhibition

Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.
Johannes Brahms

This exhibition celebrates the artisanship, skill, and dexterity involved in creating works of art and unique objects through long, labor-intensive processes. Throughout history and all around the world, a great variety of stimuli have impelled artists of different cultures to push their creative abilities to the limit. Talent and experience, combined with persistence and patience, guided their hands in making objects so exquisite as to inspire amazement and even disbelief.

At the start of the twentieth century, Marcel Duchamps readymades one of the most influential developments of modern art challenged the definition of art. Duchamp opened up a debate about the nature of authorship and what should be considered an original work of art, not only as a physical object, but also as an idea. This philosophical act took art away from what he called the retinal and turned it towards the cerebral; it also seemed to negate the traditional importance of an artworks uniqueness and the individual touch of the artists hand.

Steve Wolfe plays with Duchamps redefinition of art when he recreates existing mass-produced articles (books and cardboard boxes) through a process that takes months and sometimes years to accomplish. He employs very complex techniques of simulation to transform objects that are found in enormous quantities into unique works of art what Edmund White calls hand-made readymades (p. 1 of his essay in Steve Wolfe, exh. cat., Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York, 2003). In Susan Colliss work, everyday objects, stained with the marks of wear and tear, are inlayed with precious and semiprecious stones cut to the shapes of the drips and splashes. Her painstaking, time-consuming endeavor turns the cheap and temporary into the highly precious and unique.

In this exhibition, the question of time and its value in relation to the work process has great significance. When we consider the time that has been invested in the objects, as well as the time it takes us to contemplate them as they deserve, this only increases our wonder, amazement, and even awe. Liza Lous Kitchen is a case in point: she spent five years of her 7 life to complete it, using millions of beads. The repetitive and meditative nature of beadcraft is essential to the works meaning. By blurring the distinction between the high and the low, Lou probes and challenges traditional ideas of what constitutes fine art. Her work epitomizes the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural concept of the exhibition. It evokes the beading tradition of North American Indians, but also that of African peoples, and it reminds us of the link between a Maori carver and Yoshihiro Sudas sculpting technique, between the Chinese artist who depicted 53 tiny children on a piece of ivory and Roxy Paines 2,200 mushrooms.

In some cases our eyes are deceived by the extraordinary realism of a work, tricked into believing that the depiction is the real thing. Ron Mueck faithfully reproduces the minute details of the human body but he plays with the scale to produce uncanny images that challenge us to reconcile two contradictory realities. Yet the real wonder, the magical appeal, of Muecks sculptures lies in the meticulous process through which they were made.

In our electronic age, when every day brings new time-saving technologies and innovative materials, many artists continue to paint, sculpt, or draw and to demonstrate their skill and knowledge by creating technically remarkable works of art. Now, more than ever, there is something incredible about the artists quest for perfection: can individually crafted objects survive in a world of cloning and mass production?

Perhaps our constant fascination with and appreciation of handmade activity is in part a response to the loss of originality that characterizes todays technology. And perhaps it has to do with a profound need and longing for tangible things that are awesome and enduring, for acts of creativity that echo the divine.

Suzanne Landau
Landeau Foundation Curator of Contemporary Art
Yulla and Jacques Lipchitz Chief Curator of the Arts

 
    
למאגר התערוכות , מוזיאון ישראל | מוזיאון ישראל, ירושלים | כל הזכויות שמורות © מוזיאון ישראל, ירושלים 1995-
To The Israel Museum Exhibition Online | The Israel Museum, Jerusalem | Copyright © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem 1995-

 

www.english.imjnet.org.il