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David Zwirner, 537 West 20th Street presents Richard Serra - Vertical and Horizontal Reversals
Franz West

Archive | Information & News

6 Nov 2014 to 20 Dec 2014
Tuesday – Saturday, 10 AM – 6 PM
Monday by appointment
David Zwirner
537 West 20th Street
New York, NY
New York
North America
T: +1 212 517 8677
F: +1 212 517 8959

Installation view, "Richard Serra: Vertical and Horizontal Reversals," David Zwirner, New Yo
© 2014 Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Artists in this exhibition: Richard Serra, Franz West

Richard Serra Vertical and Horizontal Reversals

November 6 - December 20, 2014

David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new drawings by Richard Serra at its 537 West 20th Street gallery.  

Serra began creating drawings in 1971, and they continue to constitute an autonomous part of his practice. Often large in scale, the artist’s drawings are typically made with a thick impasto of black paintstick (or, more recently, lithographic crayons melted and formed into a brick), which is applied to a surface in broad, dense passages. Serra’s exclusive use of black in these abstract works absorbs and reduces light, conveying a sense of weight, gravity, and mass.  

Begun in the summer of 2013, Serra’s “Symmetry” and “Reversal” drawings employ two identical rectangular sheets of paper that are adjoined in a vertical or horizontal format. In the “Symmetry” drawings, the white and black areas mirror one another in two symmetrically juxtaposed sheets. In the related “Reversal” drawings, from which the works in this exhibition are drawn, the black and white areas reverse themselves proportionally top to bottom (or left to right). The area that is black on the top (or left) sheet is white on the bottom (or right) sheet, and the area that is white on the top (or left) sheet is black on the bottom (or right) sheet in a figure/ground reversal. With these works, Serra expands upon his longstanding interest in the physical versus the cognitive perception of form.  

A group of fifteen Vertical Reversal drawings was first presented at the Instituto Moreira Salles, Rio de Janeiro from May – September 2014 (Richard Serra: desenhos na casa da Gávea); the exhibition at David Zwirner will additionally include new Horizontal Reversals that have not previously been shown.  

On the occasion of the exhibition, David Zwirner Books is publishing a catalogue that will include new scholarship by art historian Gordon Hughes.    

Richard Serra
’s (b. 1938) first solo exhibitions were held at the Galleria La Salita, Rome, 1966, and, in the United States, at the Leo Castelli Warehouse, New York, in 1969. His first solo museum exhibition was held at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1970. Serra has since participated in documenta 5 (1972), 6 (1977), 7 (1982), and 8 (1987), in Kassel; the Venice Biennales of 1980, 1984, 2001, and 2013; and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Annual and Biennial exhibitions of 1968, 1970, 1973, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1995, and 2006.  

Serra has had solo exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1977; the Kunsthalle Tübingen, 1978; the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, 1978; the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1980; the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, 1984; the Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, 1985; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1986; the Louisiana Museum, Humlebæk, 1986; the Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster, 1987; the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, 1987; the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 1988; the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, 1990; the Kunsthaus Zürich, 1990; CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux, 1990; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 1992; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 1992; Dia Center for the Arts, New York, 1997; Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro, 1997-98; Trajan’s Market, Rome, 2000; the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis, 2003; and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Naples, 2004.  

More recently, in 2005 eight large-scale works by Serra were installed permanently at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and in 2007 The Museum of Modern Art, New York presented a retrospective of the artist’s work. His work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris in 2008 (MONUMENTA 2008: Richard Serra: Promenade); in 2011-12 the exhibition Brancusi-Serra traveled from the Beyeler Foundation, Riehen to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; and a traveling survey of Serra’s drawings was on view in 2011-12 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Menil Collection, Houston (which was the organizing venue). 

In 2014, the Qatar Museum Authority presented a two-venue retrospective survey of his work at the QMA Gallery and the Al Riwaq exhibition space, Doha; also in Qatar, a new permanent, site-specific work, East-West/West-East was installed in the Brouq Nature Reserve in the Zekreet Desert. An exhibition of works on paper by the artist was presented at the Instituto Moreira Salles, Rio de Janeiro from May – September 2014.  

This is the second exhibition at David Zwirner of Richard Serra’s work. In 2013, the gallery presented Richard Serra: Early Work, a critically acclaimed exhibition that brought together significant works from 1966-1971. The accompanying catalogue, published by Steidl/David Zwirner, extensively covers this period of the artist’s career with a compendium of archival texts and photographs and an essay by Hal Foster. In May 2015, the gallery will present an exhibition of new sculpture by the artist.    


Franz West

November 6 - December 13, 2014
Opening reception: Thursday, November 6, 6 – 8 PM
Press walkthrough with David Zwirner and Alexandra Whitney, Director of Research & Exhibitions: Friday, November 7, 10 AM

David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of works from the 1990s by Austrian artist Franz West (1947-2012) at its 537 West 20th Street location.  

During this significant decade, the artist’s career was solidified through important international exhibitions, and his work moved in innovative new stylistic directions. The gallery will present a number of key sculptures, collages, and installations from this period in an effort to contextualize the evolution of West’s singular practice.  

Emerging in the early 1970s, West developed a unique aesthetic that engaged equally high and low reference points and often privileged social interaction as an intrinsic component of his work. By playfully manipulating everyday materials and imagery in novel ways, he created objects that serve to redefine art as a social experience, calling attention to the way in which art is presented to the public, and how viewers interact with works of art and with each other.   The 1990s proved critical in the development of the idiosyncratic style for which West is still known today. Key innovations from this period—which included the addition of exuberant color to his papier-mâché forms, the incorporation of furniture both as art object and as social incubator, and the inclusion of work by other artists in his own installations—resulted in dynamic, frequently interactive installations that helped to redefine the possibilities of sculpture and the ways in which art is experienced.  

The exhibition will include a number of important works, beginning with several white painted aluminum sculptures from West’s solo presentation at the Austrian pavilion at the 44th Venice Biennale in 1990–evolving out of a body of work that began in the 1970s, these Paßstücke (or Adaptives) were created to be interacted with physically by the viewer. The exhibition will also present a group of the artist’s large-scale, anthropomorphic Lemurenköpfe (Lemure Heads), which playfully meld sculptural figuration and abstraction and which were first shown at documenta IX, Kassel (1992). Also on view will be a significant body of work from the artist’s 1997 exhibitions at FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims (Franz West: Recyclages) and The Museum of Modern Art (Projects 61: Franz West), which dynamically incorporated multipart, colorful sculptures and collages; and works from West’s 2000 solo presentation at the Renaissance Society, Chicago (Franz West: Pre-Semblance and the Everyday), which signaled a shift in his practice towards larger-scale constructions. The exhibition will moreover bring together a number of key works from the five solo shows of West’s work held at David Zwirner during the 1990s, beginning with Franz West: Investigations of American Art (1993), the gallery’s inaugural exhibition.  

A program of the artist’s films from the decade, made in collaboration with Austrian filmmaker Bernhard Riff, will additionally be on view. A fully illustrated publication, forthcoming by David Zwirner Books, will feature essays by noted West scholars Eva Badura-Triska and Veit Loers.  

Franz West
(1947 – 2012) began exhibiting his work in the 1970s and began to gain international recognition in the 1980s, with significant shows at such venues as the Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz (1986); Wiener Secession, Vienna (1986); Skulptur. Projekte in Münster (1987); Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; Kunsthalle Portikus, Frankfurt (both 1988); Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld; and the Institute for Contemporary Art, P.S. 1, Long Island City, New York (both 1989). 

In the 1990s, the artist’s work was presented at the Austrian Pavilion of the 44th Venice Biennale (1990); documenta IX, Kassel (1992); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Dia Center for the Arts, New York (both 1994); Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (Carnegie International, 1995); Villa Arson, Nice (1995-96); and the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach (1996). A major, mid-career retrospective (Franz West, Proforma) was organized by the Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna in 1996 (it traveled to the Kunsthalle Basel; Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo; Nárondi galerie Praze/Sbirka moderniho umeni Veltrzni palác, Prague; Muzeum Sztuki w Lodzi, Lodz); and solo exhibitions were held at the Kunstverein Hamburg (1996); FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Fundação de Serralves, Porto (all 1997). West participated in documenta X, Kassel; and the Rooseum, Centre for Contemporary Art, Malmö, presented a solo exhibition of his work in 1999. The artist’s work was featured at The Renaissance Society, Chicago (2000), and Museum für Neue Kunst, ZKM Karlsruhe and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid presented the traveling survey Franz West: In & Out (2000-2001).  

Further exhibitions were held at the Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK), Vienna and MassMocA, North Adams,Massachusetts (2001-2002); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2001-2002); Musée d’Art Contemporain, Marseille (2002); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Kunsthaus Bregenz (both 2003); and the Vancouver Art Gallery, British Columbia (2005). In 2008-2009, The Baltimore Museum of Art organized a retrospective which traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Franz West, To Build a House You Start with the Roof: Work, 1972-2008); and in 2013, a significant posthumous overview of the artist’s work was presented at the Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna.

For all press inquiries, contact

Kim Donica +1 212 727 2070

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