This September, the Nasher Sculpture Center will provide a long overdue look at the work of two of contemporary art’s most dynamic and multifaceted artists.
The Nasher has announced Elmgreen and Dragset: Sculptures, an exhibition that will mark the Scandinavian duo’s first major museum presentation in the United States will be on view at the museum from Sept. 14 through Jan. 5, 2020.
Artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have worked together as Elmgreen & Dragset since the mid-1990s. In their sculptures, installations, and performances, they reinterpret familiar designs and spatial structures that surround residents in their everyday lives with criticality and subversive wit.
From their permanent, site-specific installation of a forever-closed Prada boutique in the West Texas desert, to their contributions to the Danish and Nordic Pavilions at the Venice Biennale in 2009 to their conception of a faux art fair in Beijing in 2016 or their giant upright swimming pool Van Gogh’s Ear at Rockefeller Plaza the same year, Elmgreen & Dragset consistently devise new possibilities in the way art is presented and perceived, and how we use and organize public space.
“We are delighted to present a unique look at Elmgreen & Dragset’s sculptural practice for the first time in a museum exhibition in the United States,” museum director Jeremy Strick said. “Knowing the standards of wit and ingenuity that they regularly deploy, we can expect them to find compelling ways of engaging their work with — and offering new insight into — the museum’s environs, its history, its permanent collection, and indeed the long tradition of sculpture.”
At the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, the exhibition will focus on Elmgreen & Dragset’s sculptural production, presenting together for the first time a large selection of works that illustrate the artists’ use of multiple aesthetics and working methods, and show entry points from post-Minimalism, conceptual strategies, and the figurative sculpture tradition.
The artists’ diverse practice often incorporates performative and narrative elements on subjects that encompass the personal and the political, such as youth and aging, sexual identity, institutional structures, and issues in relation to public space.
The exhibition will include sculptures from the beginnings of Elmgreen & Dragset’s collaboration as well as new work created for this presentation.
The artists will also restage two new versions of works from their past oeuvre: in the Nasher Garden, Elmgreen & Dragset will install the second edition of Traces of a Never Existing History/Powerless Structures, Fig. 222 — their iconic sinking/emerging contemporary art museum, originally commissioned for the seventh Istanbul Biennial in 2001.
And in the Nasher Galleries, alongside their sculptural works, the artists will stage the fourth iteration of their Diaries series of durational performances. Originally presented at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris in 2003 as Paris Diaries, the artists have subsequently presented the performance in Istanbul (2013) and Hong Kong (2015).
Dallas Diaries will feature three young men, seated at specially designed writing desks, keeping diaries in the gallery throughout the run of the exhibition.
In conjunction with the Elmgreen & Dragset: Sculptures exhibition, the Nasher Sculpture Center will publish a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue that will include an introductory essay by Curator and Project Director, Dr. Leigh Arnold and three scholarly essays by doctors David Getsy, Joan Kee, and Alex Potts, as well as the first overview of the artists’ public sculpture, co-authored by Arnold and writer and editor, Anita Iannacchione.
As the first publication in the world devoted to their sculptural works, it will provide a visual and scholarly overview of their sculpture, from the artists’ early career up to today. Through essays and extensive visual documentation — approximately 250 color and 30 black and white images of artworks — readers will have access to the variety of sculptural approaches and artistic languages, aesthetics, and topics Elmgreen & Dragset engage within their work.