Closed Gallery, December 10, 2022 to January 6, 2023
During the exhibition the gallery will be closed.
This piece is about the unknown. How we react to it, and how contemplation of it leads to unique ideas in each person’s own mind.
This inaugural exhibition at Timothy Hawkinson Gallery recreates a seminal installation that Robert Barry originally presented in 1969 at three venues: In Los Angeles at Eugenia Butler Gallery (March 10 - 21), in Amsterdam at Art & Project (December 17 - 31), and in Torino at Galleria Sperone (December 30). The card for the presentation at Sperone read: “For the exhibition the gallery will be closed,” and at Eugenia Butler: “The Gallery Will Be Closed.”
The gallery premises will remain locked and inaccessible for the length of the presentation. The artwork’s properties can be clearly and succinctly described in one sentence, yet it is somehow left open ended. The artwork requires a physical building in which to be installed, but by its very nature remains out of reach. Suspended in a superposition of being both present and absent.
Each audience member to encounter this work presumably begins to have questions- about what might or might not be inside, if something is hidden, if something is missing, about access to space and information in their lives and the wider world. The mystery is perhaps heightened being staged in a brand new gallery, an interior that no one has yet seen. If the gallery were to open the artwork would cease to exist. Engendering this state of growing and spiraling questions, this perpetual unknowability, is the crux. How to sit with not knowing, and never being able to know. To place the audience with this condition to grapple with. Whatever the meaning of the art is, it’s left up to the audience. And ultimately the piece in its entirety is further unknowable because it exists in the minds of so many people. Each one can only really know their own conception of it.
Since the 1960s Barry has been interested in pushing the boundaries of his art. Challenging physical and conceptual definitions of artworks and the ways in which art connects to the contexts in which it is displayed. His minimal paintings in the 60s first pushed to the edges and sides of the canvases, then burst into activating full walls and rooms. He explored materials that have physical properties in the world, that can be recorded with the proper instruments, but due being undetectable by human senses seem to be invisible: inert gasses, radiation, magnetic and radio waves, ultrasonic sound, etc. Language, always important to his work, came more to the forefront, in works such as “It Has Order”, 1969-70, with short, typed sentences over otherwise empty pages ' ... it has order ... it is always changing ... it is affected by other things ... it affects other things ... it is not confined ... it is not in any specific place ... it can be presented, but go unnoticed ... to know of it is to be part of it …' More information is withheld than given in these descriptions. Like his Closed Gallery Piece and intangible material works the audience is left to conceive of the work internally with all their own connotations leading to unique end points. Recent works utilize independent words (painted, printed, carved, cast, projected and in vinyl) floating in constellations over canvases, paper, walls, windows, even lawns. Read alone, in pairs, or in varying combinations scanned back and forth horizontally and up and down vertically as the eye wanders. These words become continuous streams of thoughts and contemplation. Each mind making a different sense of things. His word choices always open-ended and generous.
Robert Barry (1936, The Bronx, New York), lives and works in New Jersey.
His work has been exhibited in major international biennales and museums: Documenta in Kassel; Venice Biennale; Paris Biennale; MOMA, NY; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Whitney Museum, NY. He was the first living artist to have a work permanently installed at the Musée d’Orsay. Along with Lawrence Weiner, Joseph Kosuth, and Douglas Huebler he was one of four artists included in Seth Siegelaub’s landmark exhibition “January 5 – 31, 1969,” know as the Catalog Exhibition. His was included in epoch-making exhibitions such as “When Attitudes Become Form…” at the Kunsthalle Bern and The Institute of Contemporary Art, London (1969)
Represented for decades by legendary galleries Leo Castelli, Yvon Lambert, Massimo Minini, Holly Solomon, Paul Maenz, Jack Wendler, Alfonso Artiaco, Sfeir-Semler, Greta Meert, Thomas Solomon, Gasser & Grunert and more. Recent gallery shows have been held at Francesca Minini, Parra & Romero, Cristina Guerra. Most recently in Los Angeles Marc Selwyn Fine Art presented a 2019 exhibition curated by Thomas Solomon. Gallery Shilla presented Closed Gallery the the KIAF Seoul art fair as a closed booth in 2021.
Barry’s extensive exhibition history includes solo shows at the Tate, London; Kunsthalle Nürnberg; Kustmuseum Luzern; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and an upcoming exhibition at Lausanne Kunsthalle in Switzerland curated by Mathieu Copeland.
His work is included in the permanent collections of the world's major museums and foundations: Museum of Modern Art, NY; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Musée d'Orsay, Paris; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Centre George Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Kunstmuseum, Basel, and the Ludwig, Vienna, among scores of others.
Example Images of Other Artworks by Robert Barry:
Acrylic and pencil on canvas
40 x 30 inches
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas on wood, in four parts
Each wood square 3 x 3 inches, overall 60 x 60 inches
Collection of Museum of Modern Art, New York
Untitled (Something which can never be any specific thing), 1969
Typewriter on paper
4 x 6 inches
Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, NY
Ink and graphite on paper
9 1⁄4 x 9 1⁄4 inches
All the things I know but of which I am not at the moment thinking-1:36 p.m.; June 15, 1969, 1969
Graphite on wall
Ringier Collection, Zurich
Detail, Inert Gas Series: Helium. Sometime during the Morning of March 5, 1969, 2 Cubic Feet of Helium Will Be Released into the Atmosphere, 1969
35 3/16 x 23 1/8 inches
Publisher Seth Siegelaub, Los Angeles
Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Electromagnetic Energy Field, 1968
Electromagnetic energy transmitter
3 x 4 x 2 1/4 inches
Collection of the Walker Museum, Minneapolis
Untitled (two light vertical pencil lines), 1967 Graphite on paper
8 3⁄4 x 9 inches
Steel Disc Suspended 1/8 of an Inch Above the Floor, 1967
Steel disc and nylon string
dimensions variable; disc: 5/8 x 2 1/16 inches
Collection of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC,
Single sided postcard / announcement published in conjunction with show held March 10 - 21, 1969 at Eugenia Butler, Los Angeles
Installation view from Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon, 2017
Red Cross, 2009
Vinyl text on wall
Installed at Aspen Art Museum
Acrylic paint on wooden panel
24 × 24 × 1 3/5 inches