below above (solo show)
Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich
11 June – 18 September 2022
Californian artist Liz Larner creates new meaning in sculpture. Her focus is on the body, on presence and absence, and ways of thinking over time. Her work combines established and unorthodox perspectives with a detailed knowledge of history, form and material. Thus an encounter with Larner’s art is always rich and complex, it is sometimes contradictory but above all it is transformative. It is an encounter that goes beyond art and art history, that includes beauty, but also bodily experience, emotion and eros, cosmos and humour.
‘This is the thing about sculpture: you need to be there, and if you are there, you can feel it and know it, you get it physically as an embodied and embedded subject. Sculpture is the art form where this happens the most, where you use your senses to navigate an object in space and gain understanding from this engagement. … Looking at sculpture is a very active form of receiving information and a very free pursuit compared to pushing buttons on a screen to find information through established pathways, just by the way each person encounters a sculpture because it’s not flat. And the light, weather, temperature, and condition of each moment are in constant flux, and sculpture must be physically moved around and sensed through movement to be understood.’
Larner’s interest lies in the transformation of material through form, of form through material and in the possible effects of this transformation. There is a formalist approach at work here that is oriented towards the convictions of modernism. At the same time, however, Larner is critical of the latter and says:
‘People still look for mastery and dominance. I’d like to continue without these. I have to accept things, working with surprise and acceptance instead of determination, keeping a relationship with the way things are and the way I might want them to be before they become. I go back and forth between the two.’
Larner’s art is self-critical and political, it is deeply reflexive and philosophical. The artist is committed to experimentation and research, she understands and accepts the power of chance and repeatedly exposes herself to a wide variety of influences, approaches and considerations. This has resulted in an oeuvre developing since the late 1980s, one that does not rely on recognition. ‘I never felt the need for a style because the style was my approach, not what it looked like.’
The extensive exhibition below above at Kunsthalle Zürich reveals this diversity through a concentrated selection of works created between 1988 and 2022. In addition a new, expansive, sculptural installation over 500m2 consisting of the two elements Meerschaum Drifts and Asteroids will be shown for the first time. ‘Making an impossible but known space with sculpture is my intention for the 2nd floor at Kunsthalle Zürich. Let’s see if it is going to work. It is a vista transforming into objects and materials and what they mean, not just as art materials but clay (for the asteroids) as part of the earth yet representing outer space; and plastic, which comes from fossil fuels but is turned into everyday objects made of unrecyclable and recyclable plastics, like toys, plastic wrapping, bags and disposable containers, taking the form of sea foam. It’s a seascape or landscape or skyscape and an intense physical and possibly emotional experience through the material present.’
In this installation, Larner experiments with new materials, with recycling and possible developments of apocalyptic proportions. ‘It is about a disaster [environmental destruction] we potentially can control but seem not to have the will or consensus needed to control, and another disaster we can’t control.’
Don't Put It Back Like It Was, 2022 (publication)
Published by Dancing Foxes Press, SculptureCenter, and Walker Art Center
Edited by Karen Kelly and Barbara Schroeder
Don't Put It Back Like It Was is an illustrated catalogue published on the occasion of Liz Larner's largest survey exhibition since 2001, organised by SculptureCenter, New York, and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
Reconsidering her enduring formal and material concerns alongside her relationship to a feminist sculptural position, this monograph offers an opportunity to survey the Los Angeles-based sculptor’s artistic project within today’s expanded discourses of embodiment, gender, and posthumanism.
Liz Larner et al.
Toucher Terre, l’art de la sculpture céramique (group show)
Fondation Villa Datris, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
27 May – 1 November 2022
Liz Larner’s sculpture Nyx from 2021 is included in the group exhibition Toucher Terre, l’art de la sculpture céramique, which will be on view at the Fondation Villa Datris in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue from 27 May until 1 November 2022.
Fondation Villa Datris
Don’t put it back like it was (solo show)
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
30 April – 4 September 2022
For the past three decades, Los Angeles–based artist Liz Larner (US, b. 1960) has explored the material and social possibilities of sculpture in innovative and surprising ways. Today she is one of the most influential artists of her generation engaged with the medium. Larner’s use of materials ranges from the traditional—such as bronze, porcelain, glass, or stainless steel—to the unexpected: bacterial cultures, surgical gauze, sand, or leather. The artist selects each medium for its physical or chemical properties as well as for social and historical associations. Taking direction from these materials, she creates works that can be delicate or aggressive, meticulously crafted or unruly and formless.
Liz Larner: Don’t put it back like it was, co-organized by the Walker Art Center and SculptureCenter, New York, is the artist’s largest survey since 2001. Presenting some 30 works produced between 1987 and 2020, the exhibition includes many pieces never before shown. Featured works include Larner’s early experiments with petri dishes and destructive machines, installations that respond to architecture, and more recent wall-based works in ceramic.
As a whole, the exhibition underscores the power and intention of Larner’s work to reconsider objects in physical space as not only a matter of architectural proportions but also as a social, gendered, and psychological construction. As her objects assert themselves in the gallery environment, they reflect a history of sculptural practice and an understanding of physical space that has largely been shaped by (or credited to) men. The experience of viewing these works compels an awareness of our own embodied presence and relationship to this space.
The exhibition examines ways in which Larner has investigated both the material potential of sculpture and its relationship to the viewer, bringing forward key themes that have occupied her work: the dynamic between power and instability, the tension between surface and form, and the interconnectedness of objects to our bodies.
Curator: Mary Ceruti, executive director, Walker Art Center. The New York presentation is organized by Kyle Dancewicz, interim director, SculptureCenter.
A catalogue will be published to accompany this exhibition. Get your copy here.
Walker Art Center
now part of the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago
We are pleased to announce that Liz Larner's sculpture Reef from 2019 is now part of the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. The work is also currently on view at the institution.
Art Institute of Chicago