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Shutters and Stairs

Elements of Modern Architecture in Contemporary Art

  • Date iconFebruary 21 2020 - May 22 2021
  • Curator: Aya Miron
  • Designer: Michal Aldor
  • Artists: Joshua Borkovsky, Shibetz Cohen, Jesse Darling, Yael Efrati, Asaf Elkalai, Assaf Evron, Tsibi Geva, Matan Golan, Olivia Hild, Alex Israel, Renata Lucas, Saher Miari, Moshe Ninio, Roman Ondák, Hadar Saifan, Fred Sandback, Ariel Schlesinger, Gil Marco Shani, Hilla Toony Navok, Yonatan Vinitsky, Noa Yafe, Shay Zilberman, Jonathan Zofy

Architecture, from its grand manifestations to its small, intimate details, shapes our physical environment. In this architecturally designed space, we move about habitually, without paying close attention to what is around us, without actively gazing at our surroundings. Architecture is always in the back of our consciousness. But since we cannot take in the entire environment (or building) at a glance, our spatial orientation depends on our ability to glean information from meaningful details, such as a door, or a window handle.

An examination of Israel Museum acquisitions from recent years has uncovered an interesting phenomenon: contemporary artists directing their attention not to an entire architectural structure (or a part of it), but to a single isolated element – such as a floor, wall, door, or staircase – whose design is typical of modernist architecture.

Each of the works in the exhibition offers an encounter with such an element and with the conceptual underpinnings of its transposition from real life to the context of art. The materials of which they are made and their treatment underscore the materiality of the represented elements and draw our attention to small details that often elude us. Inspired by modernist architecture, many of the works recall the geometric abstraction of twentieth-century art. Like photography, which is an act of framing and exclusion, the works on view appear to have been cut out of the vast expanse of the world and cast upon the museum wall or floor. Presented in the gallery space, the shutter, window handle, and stairs – whose dimensions correspond to the human body – invite us to take a closer look, as though they have burst out from the unconscious realm of quotidian existence and are demanding our undivided attention.


Exhibition made possible by
Donors to the Museum's Exhibition Fund:
Claudia Davidoff, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in memory of Ruth and Leon Davidoff
Hanno D. Mott, New York
The Nash Family Foundation, New York

Exhibition tour with curator, Aya Miron