Roger Brown, Ablaze and Ajar, 1972. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, bequest of Ruth S. Nath. © The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Gabriel Orozco, Isla en la Isla (Island within an Island), 1993. Marian Goodman Gallery, New York. © Gabriel Orozco, courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.

Andreas Gursky, Avenue of the Americas, 2001. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Joseph and Jory Shapiro Fund. Photo © MCA Chicago.

Surveying the Skyscraper, a Cathedralesque Longing to Approach God

Yin Xiuzhen, Portable City: Dunhuang, 2010. © Yin Xiuzhen, courtesy of The Pace Gallery, Beijing.

gelitin, B-Thing, detail f, 2001. Courtesy the Artists and Greene Naftali, New York.

Jakob Kolding, Construir Autonomia, 2010. Courtesy of Team Gallery, New York.

Jakob Kolding, Flowered Up, 2010. Courtesy of Team Gallery, New York.

Jakob Kolding, World (Reshape), 2012. Courtesy of Team Gallery, New York.

gelitin, B-Thing, detail e, 2001. Courtesy the Artists and Greene Naftali, New York.

gelitin, B-Thing, detail a, 2001.Courtesy the Artists and Greene Naftali, New York.

Jan Tichy, Installation No. 3, detail, 2007. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Purchase, ARTVISION Acquisitions Committee, Israel.

Michael Wolf, Night #7, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco.

Vito Acconci, High Rise, 1980/2012. Acconci Studio.

Jakob Kolding, Architecture..00, 2010. Courtesy of Team Gallery, New York.

gelitin, B-Thing, detail 1331, 2000. Courtesy the Artists and Greene Naftali, New York.

Vera Lutter, Study for Ground Zero I, November 1-5, 2001, 2001. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Francis Dittmer, 2009.11.a. © 2001 Vera Lutter. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Jan Tichy, Installation No. 3, 2007. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Purchase, ARTVISION Acquisitions Committee, Israel.

Fikret Atay, Tinica, 2004. Courtesy of Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris.

Abelardo Morell, Camera Obscura Image of the Empire State Building in Bedroom, 1994. Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York. Image courtesy of the artist and Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York.

Vera Lutter, Study for Ground Zero II, November 7-13, 2001, 2001. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Francis Dittmer, 2009.11.b. © 2001 Vera Lutter. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Vera Lutter, Study for Ground Zero III, January 15-25, 2002, 2002. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Francis Dittmer, 2009.11.c. © 2002 Vera Lutter. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Ziad Antar, Burj Khalifa Expired, 2010. Courtesy of the artist and Selma Feriani Gallery, London.

Erica Bohm, Austin Building (from the Cityscapes series), 2009. Image courtesy The Mission Projects.

Yin Xiuzhen, Portable City: Xi'an, 2010. © Yin Xiuzhen, courtesy of The Pace Gallery, Beijing.

Enoc Perez, Marina Towers, Chicago, 2011. Collection of the artist, New York.

Marie Bovo, Cour intérieure, 29 avril 2009, 2009. © Marie Bovo. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris.

Marie Bovo, Cour intérieure, 19 novembre 2009, 2009. © Marie Bovo. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris.

 

Museum of Contemporary Art
220 E. Chicago Avenue
312-280-2660
Chicago
Skyscraper:
Art and Architecture against Gravity

June 30-September 23, 2012

The MCA brings the iconic building structure, the skyscraper, to life in Chicago, a city widely known as the birthplace of this architectural type in Skyscraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity, a selection of contemporary artworks that consider the form, technology, myth, and message of the modern skyscraper. Over 50 international artists working in the 20th and 21st centuries are featured with works ranging from film and video to painting, sculpture, and photography. Skyscraper is curated by Michael Darling, MCA James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, and Joanna Szupinska, MCA Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow.

Artists and architects, along with writers, filmmakers, and poets, have an enduring fascination with the human and spiritual desire to build farther into the skies, pushing technological limits. The Skyscraper exhibition is organized in sections that consider themes inspired by the skyscraper including: Verticality, Personification of Architecture, Urban Critique, Improvisation, and Vulnerability of Icons — which has a particular focus on the World Trade Center. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a gravity-defying new installation commissioned and built specially for the MCA’s four-story atrium space by renowned Polish artist Monika Sosnowska. Her work, The Fire Escape, is a steel structure in the form of a crumbling fire escape that hangs from the atrium ceiling.

In addition to the five thematic sections, the show features solo presentations of work by several artists. Among these is Andy Warhol’s iconic 1964 film Empire— a continuous, static shot of the Empire State Building — and the multi-screen video projection High Wire by Catherine Yass depicting the terrifying attempt of high wire artist Didier Pasquette to walk among three of Glasgow’s Red Road high rise tower blocks. Kader Attia’s Untitled (skyline) is a spectacular arrangement of refrigerators clad in mirrored tiles that emulate the skyline of a dazzling metropolis, with a video by Turkish artist Fikret Atay projected over it. Additionally, presentations of work by Hans-Peter Feldmann, Cyprien Gaillard, and Jan Tichy are featured in the exhibition along with the Monika Sosnowska’s lobby project.

Verticality The works in the Verticality section reflect the optimism of the modern skyscraper and iconic buildings, such as Marina Towers and the Chrysler Building. Artist Erica Bohm addresses the skyscraper as an icon of capitalist power, while the work of Roe Ethridge conveys the comfort of looking out from the window of a skyscraper. Featured artists are Jennifer Bolande, Erica Bohm, Chris Burden, Roe Ethridge, Josiah McElheny, Enoc Perez, Tony Tasset, and Peter Wegner.

Personification of Architecture The works in this section straddle the human and the architectural, from Vito Acconci’s High Rise where the visitor’s action can raise the phallic-like structure of the high rise, to Abelardo Morell’s work using a camera obscura to project an image of the Empire State Building on a bed. Featured artists include: Vito Acconci, Francis Alÿs, Roger Brown, Abelardo Morell, Eliza Myrie, Claes Oldenburg, Jean-Pierre Raynaud, Madelon Vriesendrop, and H.C. Westermann.

Urban Critique These works look at modern architecture with a critical eye to temper the utopianism of the cult of the skyscraper with its dystopian brother. Works by artists such as Shizuka Yokomizo and Michael Wolf show how the complex promise of modern housing is negated for the inhabitant by feelings of alienation, melancholia, and a loss of the distinction between public life and privacy. Featured artists are Ziad Antar, Jeff Carter, gelitin, Jakob Kolding, Michael Wolf, and Shizuka Yokomizo.

Improvisation Improvisation offers a fun look at the ways that modernist architecture is humanized by the people who inhabit it, from Yin Xiuzhen’s soft cityscapes made of fabric that dramatically unfold from suitcases, to Marie Bovo’s photographs that give a sense of falling into interior courtyards in housing blocks. Featured artists include Wilfrid Almendra, Marie Bovo, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Kori Newkirk, Gabriel Orozco, Wesley Willis, H.C. Westermann, and Yin Xiuzhen.

Vulnerability of Icons This section presents artworks that consider our changing relationship to iconic structures of power, post-9/11. This is the first time that Robert Moskowitz’s minimal paintings of the World Trade Center’s twin towers have been shown since 9/11, while Hans-Peter Feldmann’s installation Frontpage 9/12 displays the front page of 151 newspapers from September 12, 2001. Featured artists include Hans-Peter Feldmann, Jonathan Horowitz, Vera Lutter, Robert Moskowitz, Ahmet Ög?üt, and Thomas Ruff.

Exhibition Catalogue A full-color, richly illustrated, 112-page catalogue accompanies the MCA exhibition Skyscraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity and features essays by MCA James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator Michael Darling, MCA Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow Joanna Szupinska, and London-based architecture critic Owen Hatherley.

Erica Bohm, Ice Tower (from the Cityscapes series), 2009. Image courtesy The Mission Projects.

gelitin, B-Thing, detail 1338, 2000. Courtesy the Artists and Greene Naftali, New York.

Fikret Atay, Tinica, 2004. Courtesy of Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris.

Jennifer Bolande, Appliance House, 1998-99. The Guthman Collection, Chicago. Image courtesy of the artist.

Michael Wolf, Transparent City #6, 2007. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco.

gelitin, B-Thing, detail 01 unnumbered, 2000. Courtesy the Artists and Greene Naftali, New York.

Jakob Kolding, Untitled, 2000. Courtesy of Team Gallery, New York.

Jakob Kolding, Untitled, 2000. Courtesy of Team Gallery, New York.

H.C. Westermann, Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea, 1958. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Susan and Lewis Manilow Collection of Chicago Artists. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

gelitin, B-Thing, 2001. Courtesy the Artists and Greene Naftali, New York.

Roe Ethridge, Tokyo 2, 2009. Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.

Vito Acconci, High Rise, 1980/2012. Acconci Studio.

Vito Acconci, High Rise, 1980/2012. Acconci Studio.

Kader Attia , Untitled (Skyline), 2007. Courtesy Fond National d'Art Contemporain, private collection, Galerie Christian Nagel, Galerie Krinzinger and Galleria Continua. Photo: Colin Davidson.

Wilfrid Almendra, Reconstruction of a Monument I, 2011. Bugada & Cargnel, Paris. Photo © Martin Argyroglo.

Yin Xiuzhen, Portable City: Melbourne, 2009, © Yin Xiuzhen, courtesy of The Pace Gallery, Beijing.

Jeff Carter, Untitled #3 (Chicago Tribune Tower), detail, 2010. Courtesy of the artist and Galeria Valle Orti, Valencia.

Jeff Carter, Untitled #3 (Chicago Tribune Tower), 2010. Courtesy of the artist and Galeria Valle Orti, Valencia.

H.C. Westermann, Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea, 1958. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Susan and Lewis Manilow Collection of Chicago Artists. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Chris Burden, Chrysler Building, 2011. Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest.

Pierre Huyghe. Les Grands Ensembles, 2001. Marian Goodman Gallery, New York. © Pierre Huyghe, courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York | Paris.

Robert Moskowitz, Skyscraper, 1998. Alan Koppel Gallery, Chicago. Photo: Tom van Eynde, courtesy Alan Koppel Gallery, Chicago.

Kader Attia , Untitled (Skyline), 2007. Courtesy Fond National d'Art Contemporain, private collection, Galerie Christian Nagel, Galerie Krinzinger and Galleria Continua. Photo: SCAD visual media department.

Yin Xiuzhen, Portable City: Hangzhou, 2011, © Yin Xiuzhen, courtesy of The Pace Gallery, Beijing.

 

Chris Burden, Chrysler Building, detail, 2011. Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest.