Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation

Bringing together over one hundred works from the Guggenheim’s contemporary collection, Storylines examines the diverse ways in which artists today engage narrative through installation, painting, photography, sculpture, video, and performance. For these artists, storytelling does not necessarily require plots, characters, or settings. Rather, narrative potential lies in everyday objects and materials, and their embedded cultural associations. In projects created through extensive research, acts of appropriation, or performance, the artists in Storylines uncover layers of meaning, turning to individual experience as a means of conveying shared stories, whether real or fictional.

Daddy, Daddy (2008), a sculpture of the eponymous hero in Walt Disney’s Pinocchio (1940), was conceived for the group exhibition theanyspacewhatever (2008–09) at the Guggenheim Museum. Maurizio Cattelan sited the work within the fountain at the base of the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed rotunda, suggesting that the hapless puppet—the victim of foul play, a tragic accident, or suicidal impulse—has plummeted to his death from the ramps above. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

This installation serves as a lexicon of Mark Manders’s sculptural vocabulary. The fusion of architecture (smokestack) and furniture (table) is indicative of the artist’s deliberate and destabilizing oscillation between the environmental and the domestic. His tendency to shift proportions is strikingly manifest in the upholstered armchair, which was painstakingly handcrafted in the artist’s studio at 88% of its normal size. The pile of his clothes, pair of shoes, and set of contact lenses tucked underneath the structure anchor this fantasy realm with a dose of reality, one that refers directly to the author of this strange scenario. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Matthew Barney’s epic CREMASTER cycle (1994–2002) consists of five feature-length films that explore processes of creation. The cycle unfolds not only cinematically but also through the photographs, drawings, sculptures, and installations the artist produced in conjunction with each episode. Its conceptual departure point is the male cremaster muscle, which controls testicular contractions in response to external stimuli. The project is rife with anatomical allusions to the position of the reproductive organs during the embryonic process of sexual differentiation, repeatedly returning to moments in which the outcome is still unknown. In Barney’s metaphoric universe, these instances represent pure potential. As the cycle evolved over eight years, Barney looked beyond biology as a way to explore the creation of form, employing narrative models from other realms, such as biography, mythology, and geology. The vitrines on view here reference these varied sources, incorporating key objects, symbols, and color schemes to suggest the core themes of each film in the cycle. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Matthew Barney’s epic CREMASTER cycle (1994–2002) consists of five feature-length films that explore processes of creation. The cycle unfolds not only cinematically but also through the photographs, drawings, sculptures, and installations the artist produced in conjunction with each episode. Its conceptual departure point is the male cremaster muscle, which controls testicular contractions in response to external stimuli. The project is rife with anatomical allusions to the position of the reproductive organs during the embryonic process of sexual differentiation, repeatedly returning to moments in which the outcome is still unknown. In Barney’s metaphoric universe, these instances represent pure potential. As the cycle evolved over eight years, Barney looked beyond biology as a way to explore the creation of form, employing narrative models from other realms, such as biography, mythology, and geology. The vitrines on view here reference these varied sources, incorporating key objects, symbols, and color schemes to suggest the core themes of each film in the cycle. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Matthew Barney’s epic CREMASTER cycle (1994–2002) consists of five feature-length films that explore processes of creation. The cycle unfolds not only cinematically but also through the photographs, drawings, sculptures, and installations the artist produced in conjunction with each episode. Its conceptual departure point is the male cremaster muscle, which controls testicular contractions in response to external stimuli. The project is rife with anatomical allusions to the position of the reproductive organs during the embryonic process of sexual differentiation, repeatedly returning to moments in which the outcome is still unknown. In Barney’s metaphoric universe, these instances represent pure potential. As the cycle evolved over eight years, Barney looked beyond biology as a way to explore the creation of form, employing narrative models from other realms, such as biography, mythology, and geology. The vitrines on view here reference these varied sources, incorporating key objects, symbols, and color schemes to suggest the core themes of each film in the cycle. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Matthew Barney’s epic CREMASTER cycle (1994–2002) consists of five feature-length films that explore processes of creation. The cycle unfolds not only cinematically but also through the photographs, drawings, sculptures, and installations the artist produced in conjunction with each episode. Its conceptual departure point is the male cremaster muscle, which controls testicular contractions in response to external stimuli. The project is rife with anatomical allusions to the position of the reproductive organs during the embryonic process of sexual differentiation, repeatedly returning to moments in which the outcome is still unknown. In Barney’s metaphoric universe, these instances represent pure potential. As the cycle evolved over eight years, Barney looked beyond biology as a way to explore the creation of form, employing narrative models from other realms, such as biography, mythology, and geology. The vitrines on view here reference these varied sources, incorporating key objects, symbols, and color schemes to suggest the core themes of each film in the cycle. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Matthew Barney’s epic CREMASTER cycle (1994–2002) consists of five feature-length films that explore processes of creation. The cycle unfolds not only cinematically but also through the photographs, drawings, sculptures, and installations the artist produced in conjunction with each episode. Its conceptual departure point is the male cremaster muscle, which controls testicular contractions in response to external stimuli. The project is rife with anatomical allusions to the position of the reproductive organs during the embryonic process of sexual differentiation, repeatedly returning to moments in which the outcome is still unknown. In Barney’s metaphoric universe, these instances represent pure potential. As the cycle evolved over eight years, Barney looked beyond biology as a way to explore the creation of form, employing narrative models from other realms, such as biography, mythology, and geology. The vitrines on view here reference these varied sources, incorporating key objects, symbols, and color schemes to suggest the core themes of each film in the cycle. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

“Untitled” (Golden) (1995) is a luminous curtain, shimmering with faux-gilded beads. Gentle contact with this golden screen is both tactile and sensory, and the viewer is invited to transform its shape simply by walking through it. The collective and public experience of doing so, however, belies the intimate underpinning of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s curtain works. Some curtains rendered in vibrant blue reference natural forces like water; others condense the experience of battling AIDS to rich red or dull black, evoking organic and inorganic substances. The pliable and permeable membrane of the beads is imbued with symbolic meaning: “Untitled” (Golden) highlights transitory passage—from public to private, life to death, the known to the unknown. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

For her Portraits series, Catherine Opie photographed transgender women and men, drag queens, and leather dykes with great solemnity and formality, thereby using historical norms of studio portraiture to upend heterosexual norms of identity and sexuality. Although for many viewers these subjects represent the exotic “other,” Opie's photographs visually resist such simplistic voyeurism through their controlled composition, regal poses, and lush studio backdrops. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Since the early 1990s Catherine Opie has produced a rich, complex photographic oeuvre that explores notions of communal, sexual, and cultural identity. From her early portraits of queer subcultures, pristine urban panoramas, and expansive landscapes to incisive views of her own domestic life, Opie has offered profound insights into the conditions in which communities form and the terms in which they are defined. Throughout her career, self-portraiture has served as a marker of personal and artistic development, as well as a reminder that she, as the photographer, does not stand apart from the groups she documents. In this vein, she made Self-Portrait/Cutting (1993) and Self-Portrait/Pervert (1994) alongside her renowned series portraying fellow members of San Francisco’s queer leather subculture. Like those images, her self-portraits address contemporary concerns of queer identity, while couching their content in a formal tradition recalling the 16th-century paintings of Hans Holbein. In these images Opie offers something deeply personal, even confessional, revealing powerful longings that are compounded by the great physical vulnerability of the sadomasochistic acts the photographs document. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Since the early 1990s Catherine Opie has produced a rich, complex photographic oeuvre that explores notions of communal, sexual, and cultural identity. From her early portraits of queer subcultures, pristine urban panoramas, and expansive landscapes to incisive views of her own domestic life, Opie has offered profound insights into the conditions in which communities form and the terms in which they are defined. Throughout her career, self-portraiture has served as a marker of personal and artistic development, as well as a reminder that she, as the photographer, does not stand apart from the groups she documents. In this vein, she made Self-Portrait/Cutting (1993) and Self-Portrait/Pervert (1994) alongside her renowned series portraying fellow members of San Francisco’s queer leather subculture. Like those images, her self-portraits address contemporary concerns of queer identity, while couching their content in a formal tradition recalling the 16th-century paintings of Hans Holbein. In these images Opie offers something deeply personal, even confessional, revealing powerful longings that are compounded by the great physical vulnerability of the sadomasochistic acts the photographs document. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

In 2004, Catherine Opie returned to the genre of self-portraiture in Self-Portrait/Nursing, newly suffusing her image with a sense of rapturous contentment, as she holds her infant son in a classically maternal pose that further evokes art-historical imagery. Faintly but clearly visible on her chest, the word “pervert” still appears as a scar, a trace of her history that carries forward through time. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Matt Keegan’s diverse work offers an illuminating and varied inquiry into everyday American culture. Whether photography, video, or sculpture, his projects typically focus on communication, investigating the ways that image and text influence and transform social relationships. Keegan’s pieces frequently rely on appropriation, as seen in his 2009 work AMERICAMERICA excerpt #1 and excerpt #2. As part of a project for which he traveled the route of the 1986 Hands Across America campaign against homelessness, in this sculpture Keegan reproduced historical images from the movement along with newspaper clippings, copies of artworks, and popular media images of the time. Juxtaposing these materials, the work unpacks both the personal and historical implications of the mid-1980s political moment, reaching beyond the issue of homelessness to consider the AIDS crisis, sexuality, real estate, feminism, and corporate greed. Bringing these documents to bear on the current political and social climate, Keegan asks, “How did we get here?” and perhaps more importantly, “How do we move forward?” (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Adopting the role of visual activist, Zanele Muholi has dedicated her career to promoting awareness of her native South Africa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities. Her compelling and empathic photographic practice is grounded in personal relationships, offering nuanced views of individual lives set against the sometimes violent oppression still facing queer South Africans. Her portrait series Faces and Phases (2006– ) focuses on the region’s black lesbian community, presenting her subjects frontally, their penetrating gazes stoic yet vulnerable. The word “faces” in the title refers to this face-to-face confrontation—between sitter and photographer, between sitter and viewer—while “phases” suggests the transitional quality of how the subjects express their gender and sexual identity. Muholi intends “phases” to commemorate the community’s losses to AIDS as well as to hate crimes. Many of those portrayed are survivors of scathing prejudice, yet these portraits venture beyond the harrowing image of the victim. Instead, through these emotive yet restrained photographs, Muholi documents the depth of a community that is underrepresented and stigmatized both in South Africa and abroad. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Adopting the role of visual activist, Zanele Muholi has dedicated her career to promoting awareness of her native South Africa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities. Her compelling and empathic photographic practice is grounded in personal relationships, offering nuanced views of individual lives set against the sometimes violent oppression still facing queer South Africans. Her portrait series Faces and Phases (2006– ) focuses on the region’s black lesbian community, presenting her subjects frontally, their penetrating gazes stoic yet vulnerable. The word “faces” in the title refers to this face-to-face confrontation—between sitter and photographer, between sitter and viewer—while “phases” suggests the transitional quality of how the subjects express their gender and sexual identity. Muholi intends “phases” to commemorate the community’s losses to AIDS as well as to hate crimes. Many of those portrayed are survivors of scathing prejudice, yet these portraits venture beyond the harrowing image of the victim. Instead, through these emotive yet restrained photographs, Muholi documents the depth of a community that is underrepresented and stigmatized both in South Africa and abroad. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Taryn Simon undertakes meticulous research that is expressed in three artistic forms: photography, text, and graphic design. Her projects seek to uncover the complex and often dark truths that lie beneath cultural or social narratives. A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII (2008–11) is the result of four years of study, during which Simon traveled the globe to trace genealogical connections—and the effect of fraught familial relations—across eighteen diverse bloodlines. In Chapter XV (2011), Simon has collected the visages and stories of 29 members of the Su Qijian family, which was selected to “represent China” as a form of familial propaganda by the State Council Information Office (SCIO) in 2009. Simon’s text not only details the names and shared lives of these individuals, but also describes the functions of the SCIO, documenting its impact on the family and on Chinese society at large. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Taryn Simon undertakes meticulous research that is expressed in three artistic forms: photography, text, and graphic design. Her projects seek to uncover the complex and often dark truths that lie beneath cultural or social narratives. A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII (2008–11) is the result of four years of study, during which Simon traveled the globe to trace genealogical connections—and the effect of fraught familial relations—across eighteen diverse bloodlines. In Chapter V (2011), Simon’s genealogical source is absent, as she investigated the lineage of a South Korean citizen reportedly abducted by North Korean forces while at sea. The accompanying text panel describes the contentious relationship between the nations and alludes to China’s role in the situation. A 2013–14 exhibition of Simon’s work at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, was incomplete, as Chapter V and the text panels for other chapters were denied entry into the country. Simon has elected to represent this censorship as part of the work by painting black bars in the space once occupied by the revelatory and reactive images and text. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Lee Bul is a sculptor and installation artist who creates fantastic constructions evoking future worlds. She assembles turbulent, ornate visions from an array of materials, producing hybrid biological and technological forms in perpetual states of invention, metamorphosis, and ruin. Lee is fascinated by modern society’s dreams of utopia and by their melancholic failures. Her work draws on a trove of Asian and Western literary, philosophical, and popular-culture explorations of utopia, dystopia, and post-humanity, ranging from Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis (1927) to Masamune Shirow’s hit manga series Ghost in the Shell (1989–90) and feminist theorist Donna Haraway’s book A Cyborg Manifesto (1991). The series Mon grand récit (2005– ) is a multimedia project that includes dioramas of urban constructions in states of deformation and collapse. Translated as “my grand narrative,” the title refers to philosopher Jean-François Lyotard’s theory of the postmodern age, in which fragmentary, localized “small narratives” resist the absolutist metanarratives of modernism. By coupling the personal “mon” with “grand récit,” Lee reasserts personal viewpoints over collective ideals. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Lee Bul is a sculptor and installation artist who creates fantastic constructions evoking future worlds. She assembles turbulent, ornate visions from an array of materials, producing hybrid biological and technological forms in perpetual states of invention, metamorphosis, and ruin. Lee is fascinated by modern society’s dreams of utopia and by their melancholic failures. Her work draws on a trove of Asian and Western literary, philosophical, and popular-culture explorations of utopia, dystopia, and post-humanity, ranging from Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis (1927) to Masamune Shirow’s hit manga series Ghost in the Shell (1989–90) and feminist theorist Donna Haraway’s book A Cyborg Manifesto (1991). The series Mon grand récit (2005– ) is a multimedia project that includes dioramas of urban constructions in states of deformation and collapse. Translated as “my grand narrative,” the title refers to philosopher Jean-François Lyotard’s theory of the postmodern age, in which fragmentary, localized “small narratives” resist the absolutist metanarratives of modernism. By coupling the personal “mon” with “grand récit,” Lee reasserts personal viewpoints over collective ideals. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

In 2001 Ernesto Caivano began the ongoing series After the Woods, an epic love story depicted predominantly in drawings but also in sculptures and prints. The overarching narrative describes the courtship, separation, and eventual transformation of a pair of lovers over 1,000 years. Central to the story are the communications and miscommunications between the male protagonist, a knight who aids the evolution of plant life, and the female, who alternately takes the form of a princess and of a spaceship and is aligned with technological advancement. In the drawing Blackout Machine (2006), elements of the natural landscape transform into futuristic cathedral-like structures, with the flow of communication of the unseen characters illustrated by red and blue lines. The tension between nature and technology is mirrored by other dualities within the series: male/female, realism/abstraction, past/future, and architecture/landscape. To these themes Caivano adds references to abstract art, fractal geometry, molecular physics, DNA, medieval poetry, video games, and the Internet, forming an imaginative chronicle of the search for meaning in an infinitely complex universe. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Alexandre Singh’s restless and discursive work encompasses installation, sculpture, performance, literature, collage, and video. Underlying his multifaceted approach is an interest in reinventing traditional, linear modes of storytelling. Inspired by figures such as Aleister Crowley, an early-20th-century occultist; Giordano Bruno, a 17th-century friar and mystic who was renowned for his mastery of the art of memory; and 17th- and 18th-century writers such as Molière and Laurence Sterne, Singh has developed a process that resembles Internet hypertext, in which a dizzying array of subjects segue in unpredictable ways. Assembly Instructions (An Immodern Romanticism) (2009) is exemplary of Singh’s practice in its synthesis of unexpected connections, in this case drawing whimsical parallels between the 19th-century Romanticism of authors Lord Byron and Alexander Pushkin and 21st-century romantic heroines from TV’s Grey’s Anatomy (2005– ) and Sex and the City (1998–2004). Whether taking the form of a lecture, a novel, or an installation of framed collages and photocopies, Singh’s work has the feel of a journey with many unexpected detours—an open-ended platform from which many potential interpretations and ideas may be pursued for further investigation. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Sharon Lockhart is a photographer and filmmaker who creates rigidly structured compositions, developed from thorough research into intimate, analytical, and socially engaged works. Influenced by the deadpan aesthetic and serial working methods of early Conceptual art, Lockhart often groups multiple photographs of one subject together so that nearly imperceptible differences undermine photography’s timehonored tendency to freeze or capture a subject. To produce NO-no Ikebana, arranged by Haruko Takeichi, December 1, 2002 (December 2–3) (2003), Lockhart studied a group of Japanese farmers who radically subvert the elite Japanese art of ikebana, a form of flower arrangement, by using vegetables and crops in place of more traditionally beautiful blossoms. As farmers, they also give special consideration to the composition’s life cycle, which Lockhart traces as a photographic triptych over the course of one month. The images of the Brussels sprouts highlight the passage of time and the process of decay, allowing nature to create its own aesthetic gesture against the minimal background. Lockhart’s focus on this agricultural, working-class variant of a storied artistic legacy reflects her abiding interest in documenting and understanding the lives of everyday people. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Glenn Ligon addresses issues of racial and sexual identity in his paintings, photographs, and conceptual projects. Prisoner of Love #1, #2, and #3 (all 1992) belong to an early body of work in which black text is stenciled on white ground with increasing intensity and depth. The first canvas repeats the statement “We are the ink that gives the white page a meaning,” implying a collective identity. The second panel turns that observation into a question of why that may be the case. The final panel directly quotes the source material of this suite, French writer Jean Genet’s posthumously published autobiography Prisoner of Love (1986). Genet’s career was marked by his self-identification as an outsider owing to his homosexuality and early criminal past. The quotation comes from a passage in which Genet, with a somewhat misguided solidarity, muses about the marginalized yet essential status of African Americans in the United States: “They are the ink that gives the white page a meaning.” Ligon appropriates the excerpt and also makes its ink-and-paper metaphor manifest. As an African American, Ligon intervenes by adding a layer of agency and critique, thus imbuing the original text with personal experience and culturally relevant meaning. The repetition, accumulation, and transformation of the passage also speak to Ligon’s concern with language and identity as forms. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Glenn Ligon addresses issues of racial and sexual identity in his paintings, photographs, and conceptual projects. Prisoner of Love #1, #2, and #3 (all 1992) belong to an early body of work in which black text is stenciled on white ground with increasing intensity and depth. The first canvas repeats the statement “We are the ink that gives the white page a meaning,” implying a collective identity. The second panel turns that observation into a question of why that may be the case. The final panel directly quotes the source material of this suite, French writer Jean Genet’s posthumously published autobiography Prisoner of Love (1986). Genet’s career was marked by his self-identification as an outsider owing to his homosexuality and early criminal past. The quotation comes from a passage in which Genet, with a somewhat misguided solidarity, muses about the marginalized yet essential status of African Americans in the United States: “They are the ink that gives the white page a meaning.” Ligon appropriates the excerpt and also makes its ink-and-paper metaphor manifest. As an African American, Ligon intervenes by adding a layer of agency and critique, thus imbuing the original text with personal experience and culturally relevant meaning. The repetition, accumulation, and transformation of the passage also speak to Ligon’s concern with language and identity as forms. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Glenn Ligon addresses issues of racial and sexual identity in his paintings, photographs, and conceptual projects. Prisoner of Love #1, #2, and #3 (all 1992) belong to an early body of work in which black text is stenciled on white ground with increasing intensity and depth. The first canvas repeats the statement “We are the ink that gives the white page a meaning,” implying a collective identity. The second panel turns that observation into a question of why that may be the case. The final panel directly quotes the source material of this suite, French writer Jean Genet’s posthumously published autobiography Prisoner of Love (1986). Genet’s career was marked by his self-identification as an outsider owing to his homosexuality and early criminal past. The quotation comes from a passage in which Genet, with a somewhat misguided solidarity, muses about the marginalized yet essential status of African Americans in the United States: “They are the ink that gives the white page a meaning.” Ligon appropriates the excerpt and also makes its ink-and-paper metaphor manifest. As an African American, Ligon intervenes by adding a layer of agency and critique, thus imbuing the original text with personal experience and culturally relevant meaning. The repetition, accumulation, and transformation of the passage also speak to Ligon’s concern with language and identity as forms. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Shannon Ebner’s photographs and videos map the boundaries between visual and linguistic forms, highlighting basic manifestations of writing such as individual letters, punctuation marks, and typographic symbols. Working in black and white—the most basic palette of printed text—Ebner often photographs characters that she builds out of readily available materials like cardboard or concrete blocks and then situates in the landscape. Drawing on photography’s etymology as “light-writing,” she examines how the medium can construct meaning—or obscure it. This interest extends to her more documentary images, such as Instrumentals (2013), which shows a template for organizing tools in a Los Angeles auto body shop in which each hanging object is marked by its silhouette. Presented unaltered but without context, these shapes seem like an alphabet in formation—symbols that verge on signification but remain abstract and opaque. As viewers scan the image from left to right, the acts of looking and reading become blurred, opening up to a new kind of concrete poetry. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

The use of gathering and reordering to generate new associations is a hallmark of Simryn Gill’s practice, opening up otherwise ordinary objects to novel interpretations. In Full Moon (2012), Gill disassembles and re-sequences books from her grandfather’s library. The contents of Full Moon’s liberated pages range from technical explanations, economic analyses, and sociopolitical commentaries to the fictional, transcendental, and spiritual. Their origins include such seminal tomes as John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society (1958), Edward Burnett Tylor’s Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Language, Art, and Custom (1864), and Bertrand Russell’s The Impact of Science on Society (1952), as well as Julian Huxley’s “Eugenics in Evolutionary Perspective” (1964). Gill inscribed their shuffled leaves with circular designs in ink, gouache, grass pigment, laundry detergent, and correction fluid. These methodical but lively markings recalibrate the pages’ intellectual content, creating moments of unexpected harmony and balance. Unmoored from their bindings, the pages attain a literal and metaphorical lightness characteristic of Gill’s oeuvre that counters the gravity of the texts’ scholarship and cultural importance. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Since 2001, R. H. Quaytman has organized her paintings into “chapters,” each of which is conceived around a particular exhibition and evolves from a specific formal concept. For Point de Gaze, Chapter 23 (2011), of which this selection is part, several subjects inform one another and refer back to the site for which the works were produced. The first subject relates to one of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark’s small sculptures Estruturas de Caixa de Fosforos (Matchbox structures, 1964), which Quaytman exaggerates in size. Clark’s work is owned by her gallerist, linking it to Brussels, the site of the first exhibition of this chapter. Secondly, Quaytman explores the cultural history of the Beguines, a lay order of women active in the Netherlands in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, by re-creating and depicting their headpieces, which traditionally masked the Beguines’ faces. In another work Quaytman examines the history of lace-making in Belgium; lace was produced by the Beguines as a source of income. As each motif intertwines in this chapter—itself named after a form of needlepoint that originated in Brussels—the works unfold a subtle meditation on painting as both an object for display and a model for historical inquiry. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Since 2001, R. H. Quaytman has organized her paintings into “chapters,” each of which is conceived around a particular exhibition and evolves from a specific formal concept. For Point de Gaze, Chapter 23 (2011), of which this selection is part, several subjects inform one another and refer back to the site for which the works were produced. The first subject relates to one of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark’s small sculptures Estruturas de Caixa de Fosforos (Matchbox structures, 1964), which Quaytman exaggerates in size. Clark’s work is owned by her gallerist, linking it to Brussels, the site of the first exhibition of this chapter. Secondly, Quaytman explores the cultural history of the Beguines, a lay order of women active in the Netherlands in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, by re-creating and depicting their headpieces, which traditionally masked the Beguines’ faces. In another work Quaytman examines the history of lace-making in Belgium; lace was produced by the Beguines as a source of income. As each motif intertwines in this chapter—itself named after a form of needlepoint that originated in Brussels—the works unfold a subtle meditation on painting as both an object for display and a model for historical inquiry. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Since 2001, R. H. Quaytman has organized her paintings into “chapters,” each of which is conceived around a particular exhibition and evolves from a specific formal concept. For Point de Gaze, Chapter 23 (2011), of which this selection is part, several subjects inform one another and refer back to the site for which the works were produced. The first subject relates to one of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark’s small sculptures Estruturas de Caixa de Fosforos (Matchbox structures, 1964), which Quaytman exaggerates in size. Clark’s work is owned by her gallerist, linking it to Brussels, the site of the first exhibition of this chapter. Secondly, Quaytman explores the cultural history of the Beguines, a lay order of women active in the Netherlands in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, by re-creating and depicting their headpieces, which traditionally masked the Beguines’ faces. In another work Quaytman examines the history of lace-making in Belgium; lace was produced by the Beguines as a source of income. As each motif intertwines in this chapter—itself named after a form of needlepoint that originated in Brussels—the works unfold a subtle meditation on painting as both an object for display and a model for historical inquiry. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Carol Bove creates eloquent and visually understated assemblages, arranging such items as books, photographs, crystals, and peacock feathers on platforms, shelves, and other supporting elements. Each item in a Bove work has a story to tell: books are inscribed, photographs show signs of handling, pieces of driftwood are scratched, industrial scraps are dented. Yet these artifacts also point to the world beyond, referring to politics, popular culture, philosophy, and artistic traditions. Placed side by side, the objects loosely portray particular intellectual epochs and historical moments, often with a nod to the social upheaval and idealism of the 1960s. In Vague Pure Affection (2012), books, photographs, found objects, and small sculptures allude to drug culture and the expanded consciousness that many hoped to achieve through the use of psychedelics. However, Bove has drawn the work’s title from a volume that does not appear on the shelves: the 1901 Theosophist treatise Thought-Forms by Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater. This text, which outlines the shapes and colors of auras associated with various mental states, greatly influenced the invention of abstract painting by Vasily Kandinsky and others. In Bove’s hands, these juxtapositions form intuitive and open-ended webs of meaning, based as much on formal resonances and personal associations as on strict facts. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Julieta Aranda’s projects often subvert familiar systems of interacting with the world around us. Two shakes, a tick and a jiffy (2009) shift away from the notion of time as a strict linear designation marked by clocks and calendars. The work presents the viewer with an altered, oversize clock in which the day is divided into ten elongated hours. This system references decimal time, a short-lived initiative introduced during the rationalizing fervor of the French Revolution that reorganized the day into ten hours with one hundred minutes of one hundred seconds each. While the clock pays homage to this iconoclastic act of national reorganization, the second hand represents an entirely subjective experience of time, corresponding directly to the artist’s fluctuating heart rate over the course of one day. The time it takes for the clock to complete a revolution of one hundred seconds changes according to Aranda’s behavior and state of mind: it ticks faster during moments of activity and excitement and slower during periods of rest. A political concept of time is therefore complicated by the personal experience of it. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Agnieszka Kurant’s work uses material from fictional or invisible constructions of social, economic, and political systems that produce a form of value that she has termed “phantom capital.” This network of historic, scientific, geographic, and aesthetic references is the foundation for a collective cultural authorship in which truth and myth—both valid ways of interpreting societal conditions—are inextricable. In Phantom Library (2011–12), Kurant realized a set of books that had only existed as fictitious endeavors by characters in the works of writers like Jorge Luis Borges, Philip K. Dick, and Vladimir Nabokov. This physical manifestation capitalizes on the untapped creative potential previously trapped within an imagined realm. Kurant gleaned information on each book-within-a-book’s plot, characters, and themes; created jacket copy and a unique graphic identity for each volume; and further legitimized them with barcodes and ISBN numbers that establish these tomes within the economy of the publishing world. Though the volumes remain largely blank inside, certain pages of select books are interleaved with black-and- white images that depict stars and planets in space, alluding to the expansive possibilities of realizing the unreal and to the insignificance of the individual amid greater forces. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Natascha Sadr Haghighian investigates modes of perception and the politics of representation in an expansive conceptual practice that includes performance, writing, video, installation, and online projects. She is particularly interested in the consumption of visual art—a field the artist identifies as a reflection of its wider socioeconomic context. I can’t work like this (2007) was conceived in response to a gallery’s invitation to feature her work as the sole exhibition in a commercial art-fair booth; the piece was intended to mount a tacit assault on a strolling audience of potential buyers. The work withdraws the traditional art object, at least metaphorically, and leaves only the most ubiquitous tools for art installation, including discarded hammers, a common symbol for labor. The effect is one of a casual abandonment, as though the artist has simply walked away, though whether in defeat or triumph is open to interpretation. A sharp one-liner, I can’t work like this functions as an expression of the artist’s frustration at the pressures and parameters of her creative output. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenenheim Foundation)

Juliana Huxtable combines and reinvents cultural histories, questioning the presentation and perception of identity in artworks that often use her own body. In Untitled in the Rage (Nibiru Cataclysm) (2015), the surrounding landscape and the references to Nubian and Egyptian cultures recall a style of portraiture popular in African-American communities, highlighting an aspirational and triumphant portrayal of black identity. At the same time, by adopting an overtly feminized and sexualized posture, the artist, who was born intersex and raised male, emphasizes her body, at once celebrating it and interrogating normative attitudes toward gender and queer sexuality. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Untitled (Casual Power) (2015) presents a prose poem that alludes to pop-culture and intellectual icons like Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Octavia Butler, while recalling issues that have plagued the black community in New York, from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s attempts to undermine the Civil Rights movement during the 1960s and the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s to insurance fraud perpetrated by slumlords. Together with its rich imagery, these references create a complex image of black culture and history in the city. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Xaviera Simmons’s diverse and performative practice encompasses photography, sculpture, and installation in order to explore the hybrid nature of contemporary identity. Her work interrogates social relations and is often collaborative, addressing the notion of a cultural diaspora not just conceptually but also through the experiences of real individuals. Index Two Composition Three (2012) focuses on the body of a single subject, who lifts her skirt to reveal a collection of cultural artifacts beneath. Although the figure’s face is not revealed, her persona is understood, or at least suggested, through the revelation of an individual archive of images and objects: a braid of hair, a photo of singer and fashion icon Grace Jones, a ceremonial jug, vintage postcards and drawings, a tin can, and a swatch of fabric typically found on Caribbean islands. Together, these items begin to formulate a specific portrait, even as they flatten its subject into a collage-like abstraction. By highlighting the tensions between body and image, individual and society, self and other, Index Two exposes the ways personal and public visual histories feed into contemporary understandings of the self. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Josephine Meckseper co-opts commercial forms of presentation such as vitrines, window displays, and magazines to demonstrate how consumer culture influences both individual subjectivity and society. Inserting this aesthetic into the context of an exhibition, she challenges the systems of circulation and display through which cultural imagery acquires meaning, conflating art objects with commodities. Afrikan Spir (2011) takes its title from a nineteenth-century Russian philosopher who espoused the redistribution of wealth and studied the essential properties of individual and universal identity. The stainless steel and glass vitrine recalls early Modernism and the avant-garde as forms of political and aesthetic resistance to classism and capitalism. Housing disparate objects—a taxidermied raven, a digital print of actress Tippi Hedren of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), and a mannequin leg—the work embodies Spir’s notion of a compromised observed reality. The tension between reality and illusion is further exemplified by a small round mirror reflecting back the image of the viewer. The relationship of the mirrored vitrine to its objects and their combined relationship to us brings up the question of whether there is a “world as a whole,” as Spir described, or just an infinite chain of correlations between matter and objects. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Simon Fujiwara creates quasi-fictional narratives that expose the unstable relationship between memory and truth, and the complexities of cross-cultural translation. In Rehearsal for a Reunion (with the Father of Pottery) (2011), Fujiwara uses a difficult relationship with a distant father as the starting point for a humorous, circuitous video that reenacts a real-life experience through the “rehearsal” of a screenplay about it. Fujiwara visited Japan to reconnect with his father, and using craft as a kind of catharsis, they together created a tea set in the style of mid-twentieth-century British ceramist Bernard Leach. The tea set becomes the central prop in the titular rehearsal depicted in the film, with the artist in the role of the son and an actor as his father. The video progresses through enmeshed layers of fiction and reality, culminating in a moment of destruction and release. The remnants of this outburst are collected into an almost anthropological installation that seems to enshrine elements of Fujiwara’s endeavor, though it is unclear whether the truth, an artistic interpretation of it, or an outright fiction is on display—a slippage that is paralleled in the two portraits of Fujiwara and his father, one costumed and the other “real.” (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Rachel Harrison deploys a wide range of influences in her work, combining art-historical and pop-cultural citations with explorations of material, color, and form. Her hybrid sculptures enact a range of dialogues—between handcrafted and commercially produced objects, aesthetic and consumer goods, among others—and engage broader social and political histories of exchange. All in the Family (2012), an upright, top-heavy construction painted deep aubergine, acts as a display mechanism for a bright orange Hoover Vacuum Cleaner. This classic domestic appliance poses as a sculptural artifact or a figure from a retro sitcom, while alluding to Jeff Koons’s seminal 1980s series of encased vacuum cleaners. Blazing Saddles (2003), which takes its name from Mel Brooks’s 1974 satirical Western, features a framed production still from The Fuller Brush Girl (1950) showing Lucille Ball being held in a stickup by two children dressed in cowboy costumes. Above this image sits an empty case of Campbell’s Barbecue Beans, calling to mind Andy Warhol’s soup cans and silkscreened boxes of the early 1960s, as if to say that Pop art itself may continually be repackaged and resold, much like other exports of mid-century Americana. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Rachel Harrison deploys a wide range of influences in her work, combining art-historical and pop-cultural citations with explorations of material, color, and form. Her hybrid sculptures enact a range of dialogues—between handcrafted and commercially produced objects, aesthetic and consumer goods, among others—and engage broader social and political histories of exchange. All in the Family (2012), an upright, top-heavy construction painted deep aubergine, acts as a display mechanism for a bright orange Hoover Vacuum Cleaner. This classic domestic appliance poses as a sculptural artifact or a figure from a retro sitcom, while alluding to Jeff Koons’s seminal 1980s series of encased vacuum cleaners. Blazing Saddles (2003), which takes its name from Mel Brooks’s 1974 satirical Western, features a framed production still from The Fuller Brush Girl (1950) showing Lucille Ball being held in a stickup by two children dressed in cowboy costumes. Above this image sits an empty case of Campbell’s Barbecue Beans, calling to mind Andy Warhol’s soup cans and silkscreened boxes of the early 1960s, as if to say that Pop art itself may continually be repackaged and resold, much like other exports of mid-century Americana. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Shot through with sardonic humor, Nate Lowman’s paintings, photographs, sculptures, and installations use strategies of aggregation and subtle transformation to unearth narratives buried in our collective psyche. Safe Travels (2013) re-creates nine images from airplane safety guides. Enlarged and stripped of their context, the panels are unmoored from their instructional purpose. Images that are meant to do the sober work of preparing passengers for emergencies suddenly appear suffused with unintended humor and suggestions of sexuality and violence. The dishonesty of these calm, idealized images is revealed, as is their ambiguous meaning; Lowman’s arrangement emphasizes the absurdity inherent in sanitized mass visual culture, where real danger or stark reality is often cheerily replaced by more palatable images and stories. Much of Lowman’s work, which includes paintings of smiley faces, bumper stickers, and air fresheners, similarly troubles the seemingly stable and simple meanings of ubiquitous visual signifiers. Lowman is not only interested in semantics, however; he also subtly explores notions of craft. Although even tones and sharp lines give Safe Travels the look of silk screens, they are painstakingly painted by hand. By faithfully re-executing these images in a vaunted artistic medium, Lowman draws attention to the creative work of anonymous graphic artists and the ever-hazy distinction between design and high art. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Ryan McGinley gravitated toward street culture early in his adolescence and began hanging out with a band of self-proclaimed outsiders—skateboarders, club kids, graffiti artists, queer-identified youths, and indie musicians—in New Jersey and downtown Manhattan. What began as candid images of his and his friends’ lifestyles are now seen as iconic documents of a generation. McGinley’s early photographs show androgynous, often-nude youths raving, hanging precariously from rooftops, shoplifting, running, falling, cavorting, and living with hedonistic abandon, exuberance, and rebellion. While initially capturing youth culture in an urban context, in 2003 McGinley began to place his subjects in the natural world, constructing loose situations that would inspire spontaneous actions. Throughout, McGinley’s friends have been willing collaborators, keenly aware of the camera while displaying a transcendent candor, as they help to create enticing visions of a new bohemian coterie. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Ryan McGinley gravitated toward street culture early in his adolescence and began hanging out with a band of self-proclaimed outsiders—skateboarders, club kids, graffiti artists, queer-identified youths, and indie musicians—in New Jersey and downtown Manhattan. What began as candid images of his and his friends’ lifestyles are now seen as iconic documents of a generation. McGinley’s early photographs show androgynous, often-nude youths raving, hanging precariously from rooftops, shoplifting, running, falling, cavorting, and living with hedonistic abandon, exuberance, and rebellion. While initially capturing youth culture in an urban context, in 2003 McGinley began to place his subjects in the natural world, constructing loose situations that would inspire spontaneous actions. Throughout, McGinley’s friends have been willing collaborators, keenly aware of the camera while displaying a transcendent candor, as they help to create enticing visions of a new bohemian coterie. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Ryan McGinley gravitated toward street culture early in his adolescence and began hanging out with a band of self-proclaimed outsiders—skateboarders, club kids, graffiti artists, queer-identified youths, and indie musicians—in New Jersey and downtown Manhattan. What began as candid images of his and his friends’ lifestyles are now seen as iconic documents of a generation. McGinley’s early photographs show androgynous, often-nude youths raving, hanging precariously from rooftops, shoplifting, running, falling, cavorting, and living with hedonistic abandon, exuberance, and rebellion. While initially capturing youth culture in an urban context, in 2003 McGinley began to place his subjects in the natural world, constructing loose situations that would inspire spontaneous actions. Throughout, McGinley’s friends have been willing collaborators, keenly aware of the camera while displaying a transcendent candor, as they help to create enticing visions of a new bohemian coterie. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

In a later series of 2004–06, Ryan McGinley photographed fans of the musician Morrissey whom he did not know personally, though he had intimate knowledge of their milieu, having also been a fan himself. Here, while following Morrissey’s tours for two years, he portrays the enraptured experience of individuals lost in their devotion to an idol. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

In a later series of 2004–06, Ryan McGinley photographed fans of the musician Morrissey whom he did not know personally, though he had intimate knowledge of their milieu, having also been a fan himself. Here, while following Morrissey’s tours for two years, he portrays the enraptured experience of individuals lost in their devotion to an idol. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Emerging from intricately imagined narratives, Agathe Snow’s work balances visions of apocalypse, rebellion, and social breakdown with an earnest belief in the redemptive power of human ingenuity and community. These sculptures drawn from the installation All Access World were commissioned in 2011 for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, where the gallery was given over to Snow’s ambitious participatory global travelogue. Snow subjects the world’s monuments, landmarks, and historical sites to an irreverent process of reinvention, rebuilding them as riotous vessels of cultural exchange; untamed renderings of the Taj Mahal (in shredded paper atop a found tool cart), the domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral (in drooping rubber), or Easter Island (in stuffed faux fur) were originally conceived to be moved around the gallery space by viewers. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Emerging from intricately imagined narratives, Agathe Snow’s work balances visions of apocalypse, rebellion, and social breakdown with an earnest belief in the redemptive power of human ingenuity and community. These sculptures drawn from the installation All Access World were commissioned in 2011 for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, where the gallery was given over to Snow’s ambitious participatory global travelogue. Snow subjects the world’s monuments, landmarks, and historical sites to an irreverent process of reinvention, rebuilding them as riotous vessels of cultural exchange; untamed renderings of the Taj Mahal (in shredded paper atop a found tool cart), the domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral (in drooping rubber), or Easter Island (in stuffed faux fur) were originally conceived to be moved around the gallery space by viewers. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Emerging from intricately imagined narratives, Agathe Snow’s work balances visions of apocalypse, rebellion, and social breakdown with an earnest belief in the redemptive power of human ingenuity and community. These sculptures drawn from the installation All Access World were commissioned in 2011 for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, where the gallery was given over to Snow’s ambitious participatory global travelogue. Snow subjects the world’s monuments, landmarks, and historical sites to an irreverent process of reinvention, rebuilding them as riotous vessels of cultural exchange; untamed renderings of the Taj Mahal (in shredded paper atop a found tool cart), the domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral (in drooping rubber), or Easter Island (in stuffed faux fur) were originally conceived to be moved around the gallery space by viewers. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Emerging from intricately imagined narratives, Agathe Snow’s work balances visions of apocalypse, rebellion, and social breakdown with an earnest belief in the redemptive power of human ingenuity and community. These sculptures drawn from the installation All Access World were commissioned in 2011 for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, where the gallery was given over to Snow’s ambitious participatory global travelogue. Snow subjects the world’s monuments, landmarks, and historical sites to an irreverent process of reinvention, rebuilding them as riotous vessels of cultural exchange; untamed renderings of the Taj Mahal (in shredded paper atop a found tool cart), the domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral (in drooping rubber), or Easter Island (in stuffed faux fur) were originally conceived to be moved around the gallery space by viewers. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Emerging from intricately imagined narratives, Agathe Snow’s work balances visions of apocalypse, rebellion, and social breakdown with an earnest belief in the redemptive power of human ingenuity and community. These sculptures drawn from the installation All Access World were commissioned in 2011 for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, where the gallery was given over to Snow’s ambitious participatory global travelogue. Snow subjects the world’s monuments, landmarks, and historical sites to an irreverent process of reinvention, rebuilding them as riotous vessels of cultural exchange; untamed renderings of the Taj Mahal (in shredded paper atop a found tool cart), the domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral (in drooping rubber), or Easter Island (in stuffed faux fur) were originally conceived to be moved around the gallery space by viewers. Dash (2010) evokes the artist’s ex-husband Dash Snow, who passed away in 2009. A part of her Lover’s Portrait series (2010), the work combines hand-painted, mass-produced, and natural elements into an exuberant yet elegiac abstracted portrait.(Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Emerging from intricately imagined narratives, Agathe Snow’s work balances visions of apocalypse, rebellion, and social breakdown with an earnest belief in the redemptive power of human ingenuity and community. These sculptures drawn from the installation All Access World were commissioned in 2011 for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, where the gallery was given over to Snow’s ambitious participatory global travelogue. Snow subjects the world’s monuments, landmarks, and historical sites to an irreverent process of reinvention, rebuilding them as riotous vessels of cultural exchange; untamed renderings of the Taj Mahal (in shredded paper atop a found tool cart), the domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral (in drooping rubber), or Easter Island (in stuffed faux fur) were originally conceived to be moved around the gallery space by viewers. Drawn from an earlier body of work that similarly deploys household materials and scavenged street detritus, The Goldfinch (2008) suspends kitschy devotional trinkets beneath a papier-mâché mobile of two entangled rabbits, conflating the fables of Leonardo da Vinci with the saccharine religiosity of the American Dream. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Nature, geology, technology, and cosmology are common subjects of Katie Paterson’s research-based projects, for which she often collaborates with specialists in astronomy, astrophysics, genetics, and nanotechnology. For Light bulb to Simulate Moon Light (2008), Paterson worked with engineers to take light-meter readings, analyze wavelengths, and finally locate an appropriate surface coating in order to produce a bulb that emits rays approximating the light of a full moon. Paterson commissioned Osram to manufacture 289 bulbs, each lasting 2,000 hours so that the total duration of the whole set corresponds to a lifetime, based on the average human life expectancy of 66 years as estimated in 2008. With each installation, during which the entire set is exhibited with a single bulb burning in the gallery, the lifespan of the artwork is shortened. In its poignant evocation of human mortality through physical objects and the stark deployment of contemporary technologies, the work asserts a sense of the sublime within human parameters. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

For To Be Continued… (2009), Sharif Waked adopts the format of perhaps the most jarring and politically significant personal videos to emerge in recent years, in which radical Muslim terrorists recite their last will and testament in preparation for a suicide bombing. Here, however, this grisly conclusion is endlessly deferred by a simple substitution: rather than reciting his will, the protagonist, played by the Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri, reads a lengthy excerpt from One Thousand and One Nights. The text, one of the most important in Arabic literature, tells the story of the queen Scheherazade, who spends each night recounting fantastic tales to her husband, who has promised to execute her the following morning. By breaking off her stories at dawn, the queen prolongs her life one day at a time until, after one thousand days, the king decides to spare her. By staging this text within a setting of contemporary political discord, Waked interrupts the discourse around terrorism with a continuous stream of poetic language, while confounding Western audiences’ expectations of masculinity in the Islamic Middle East. At the same time, the stories he tells through the words of Scheherazade offer a glimpse of the deep historical underpinnings of Arabic identity today, in all its dynamism and complexity. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Mariana Castillo Deball is fascinated by the biography of objects, that is, the impact of an item’s location and people’s use of it on the object itself. During a residency in Scotland, the artist immersed herself in the personal archive of Scottish Pop art pioneer Eduardo Paolozzi and was struck in particular by documentation of his 1985 exhibition Lost Magic Kingdoms and Six Paper Moons from Nahuatl at the Museum of Mankind (now British Museum), London. In this display, Paolozzi presented artifacts from the British Museum’s ethnographic collection, among them papier-mâché molds made by 19th-century archaeologist Alfred Maudslay at locations including Palenque, the site of a Mayan city-state in southern Mexico. Many of the original sculptures were looted or have vanished, making Maudslay’s copies the only evidence of their existence, though now they are relegated to museum storage as they are not held in as high regard as the originals. Struck by these “ghost objects,” the artist made plaster casts derived from Paolozzi’s findings in what might be thought of as artificial fossils that embody both Maudslay’s casts and their influence on Paolozzi’s sculpture. Displayed on metal racks typical of museum storage facilities along with copies of photos by both Castillo Deball and Maudslay, the artist’s casts are thus twice removed from the original artifacts, raising questions about the aesthetic value of the copy and the transmission of historical truth. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Astroturf Constellation (2012) invokes several of Gabriel Orozco’s recurring motifs, including traces of erosion, poetic encounters with mundane materials, and the ever-present tension between nature and culture. It also amplifies the artist’s subtle practice of subjecting the world to personal, idiosyncratic systems. The work, which was created as part of a commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, comprises a collection of small particles and miniscule forms of debris left behind by athletes and spectators in the Astroturf of a playing field on Pier 40 in New York. Orozco displays these myriad items—numbering nearly 1,200 and including coins, sneaker logos, bits of soccer balls, candy wrappers, wads of chewing gum, and tangles of thread—by subjecting them to a taxonomic arrangement, organized by material, color, and size, among other criteria. The objects are accompanied by twelve grids of images of the individual artifacts, printed at larger-than-life size, again organized typologically to create a kind of visual ricochet between an individual item and its photographic representation. A 13th grid, exhibited here, documents the landscape from which the objects were retrieved. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Astroturf Constellation (2012) invokes several of Gabriel Orozco’s recurring motifs, including traces of erosion, poetic encounters with mundane materials, and the ever-present tension between nature and culture. It also amplifies the artist’s subtle practice of subjecting the world to personal, idiosyncratic systems. The work, which was created as part of a commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, comprises a collection of small particles and miniscule forms of debris left behind by athletes and spectators in the Astroturf of a playing field on Pier 40 in New York. Orozco displays these myriad items—numbering nearly 1,200 and including coins, sneaker logos, bits of soccer balls, candy wrappers, wads of chewing gum, and tangles of thread—by subjecting them to a taxonomic arrangement, organized by material, color, and size, among other criteria. The objects are accompanied by twelve grids of images of the individual artifacts, printed at larger-than-life size, again organized typologically to create a kind of visual ricochet between an individual item and its photographic representation. A 13th grid, exhibited here, documents the landscape from which the objects were retrieved. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Using both sculpture and musical performance in his practice, Kevin Beasley explores the physical materiality and cultural connotations of both objects and sound. His sculptures typically incorporate everyday items like clothing, housewares, or sporting goods, bound together using tar, foam, resin, or other materials. Often they also contain embedded audio equipment that warps and amplifies the ambient tones of their surroundings. For Storylines, Beasley has created two new works specifically for the Guggenheim’s Frank Lloyd Wright–designed building. Within this vast and open sonic environment, Strange Fruit (Pair 1) and Strange Fruit (Pair 2) (both 2015) offer an experience of intimacy, absorbing and reflecting the sound of the crowd at the scale of a personal conversation. Each work embodies this spirit of dialogue in its two-part structure—at its core are two athletic shoes, one merged with microphones, the other with speakers. Suspending these objects in space, Beasley compounds their technological interchange with additional layers of meaning, bringing to mind the urban phenomenon of shoes hanging from overhead wires or poles (itself an open-ended form of communication). At the same time the works’ titles refer to history of lynchings in the American South memorialized by Bronx schoolteacher Abel Meerepol in the 1937 protest song “Strange Fruit.” In these contexts, the hanging forms of Beasley’s sculptures resonate not only with his body, which molded them by hand, or with the bodies moving through the museum, but also with those inscribed in the problematic history of race and class in the United States. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Through sculpture and performance, Paweł Althamer pursues the transformative potential of art, fostering unique social situations that center on acts of making. Deeply engaged with the idea of collaboration, he encourages participants in his projects to reflect on their own creativity in order to newly experience their everyday lives. In a 2011 commission for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Althamer organized Almech, an installation that transformed the museum into a small factory. Relocating a portion of his father’s plastics-manufacturing firm from a Warsaw suburb to the gallery space, the artist and factory workers produced sculptures of staff and visitors as a daily public display. Portrait subjects had their faces cast in plaster, selected the metal understructures on which they were mounted, and watched as the sculptures were “fleshed out” with plastic generated by extruding machines that had been transferred from Poland to Germany. The resulting body of work, of which a selection is displayed here, stands as both a tribute to Althamer’s father—one of the first entrepreneurs in Poland’s economic “thaw” of the early 1990s—and a massive self-portrait of the Deutsche Guggenheim through the individuals who frequented it: visitors and docents, curators and arts professionals, cleaning staff and guards, Deutsche Bank executives and their clients. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Rashid Johnson’s installations frequently take the form of embellished support structures that display found objects, imbuing them with a new significance that hovers between the archaeological and the talismanic. These collections of items— which together build an iconography that spans literature, music, intellectual history, and echoes of the artist’s childhood in Chicago—reflect deeply personal references interwoven with pervasive cultural narratives. Exemplifying this facet of his work, The Ritual (2015) collates books, a vinyl record, and a sculpture by the artist’s wife, Sheree Hovsepian, as well as forms modeled from shea butter—an emollient salve derived from the African shea nut that recurs throughout Johnson’s work. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Rashid Johnson’s installations frequently take the form of embellished support structures that display found objects, imbuing them with a new significance that hovers between the archaeological and the talismanic. These collections of items— which together build an iconography that spans literature, music, intellectual history, and echoes of the artist’s childhood in Chicago—reflect deeply personal references interwoven with pervasive cultural narratives. Representing the performative aspect of Johnson’s practice, The New Black Yoga (2011) is a short film depicting an enigmatic scenario in which five African-American men perform choreographed movements on a deserted beach. Their gestures alternately appear balletic, athletic, and martial, conjuring a range of potential narratives that ultimately remain elusive. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Rashid Johnson’s installations frequently take the form of embellished support structures that display found objects, imbuing them with a new significance that hovers between the archaeological and the talismanic. These collections of items— which together build an iconography that spans literature, music, intellectual history, and echoes of the artist’s childhood in Chicago—reflect deeply personal references interwoven with pervasive cultural narratives. Cosmic Slop “Bitter” (2015) is created from a concoction of wax mixed with a black West African soap that is often used for the treatment of sensitive skin. Inscribed with the artist’s dense mark-making, this work merges the modernist tradition of the black monochrome with the cultural resonances of its unconventional materials. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Laura Owens’s paintings employ or subvert the techniques and tropes of traditional art history. Notable for its dizzying eclecticism of both subject and style, the artist’s distinctive practice helped to legitimize the resurgence of painting as a critical medium in the mid-1990s. Although Owens’s work may appear casually painted, complex layers often underpin the compositions, as seen in Untitled (1996). Calling to mind Minimalist or geometric painting with pared-down forms in an expanse of white, her art upends expectations and creates instead a rich, palpable sense of depth that seems to extend the confines of the gallery in which the painting is displayed. The viewer is drawn into an overlarge space bracketed by foreshortened paintings in a summary of Renaissance one-point perspective. The central focus is on an expanse of night sky, though Owens has wryly obfuscated whether this is another painting or a window to nature. In either option, Owens balances two- and three-dimensionality in a disorienting rumination on the act of representation. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Laura Owens’s paintings employ or subvert the techniques and tropes of traditional art history. Notable for its dizzying eclecticism of both subject and style, the artist’s distinctive practice helped to legitimize the resurgence of painting as a critical medium in the mid-1990s. Although Owens’s work may appear casually painted, complex layers often underpin the compositions. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Haegue Yang’s multisensory, immersive environments are rooted in a global narrative of travel and displacement, yet they appear enigmatic and suggestive, inviting personal projection and contemplation. In Series of Vulnerable Arrangements—Voice and Wind (2009), Yang’s use of blinds and fans alludes to the concept of home, while simultaneously partitioning the space and dividing viewers from their surroundings and each other. The domestic materials are unfettered from their mundane roles, engaged as elements of an artwork meant to provoke subjective associations by bringing the private into the public realm. Interspersed amid the subtle sway of the blinds are chemically manufactured scents, emanating from commercial scent emitters and branded with names like Buddha Temple and Ocean Mist. Yang questions why mass production would attempt to capture sensations and stimuli that are variable, culturally bound, and sublime. Within this environment, olfactory, tactile, and visual experience collapse together, encouraging the viewer’s personal interpretations. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Jonas Wood’s paintings explore the relationship between people and domestic space, capturing interiors, family, friends, residential facades, and cluttered tabletops. Prior to being painted, Wood’s compositions progress through various mediums, beginning with photographs that are collaged before serving as the basis for drawings. He frequently repeats this process by re-collaging his drawings and drawing them again before producing the final painting. The cumulative effect of these layered actions is a flattened perspective, multiple points of view, and a subtle psychological charge. Wood has an abiding fascination with psychology, and his practice mirrors the distortion and conflation of memories as they are revisited in our minds. In Ovitz’s Library (2013), Wood applies this method to the home of a renowned art collector in Los Angeles. The painting gauges how Wood’s memory of the subject mediates his relationship to the space, as well as the ways that the owner is manifested through his home and possessions. In this pseudo object-portrait, the collector’s aesthetic tastes and reading habits are all on display. By representing the collector through his self-selected environment, Wood relates another dimension of the vital connection people form with the spaces they inhabit. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Danh Vo’s practice elucidates latent meaning embedded in objects and texts as well as the malleable nature of identity, melding private narratives with global political histories. Lot 20. Two Kennedy Administration Cabinet Room Chairs (2013) investigates a dark chapter in American history as it intersects with the artist’s biography. The cascading leather fragments affixed to the wall were torn from the upholstery of chairs that once furnished John F. Kennedy’s cabinet room, which Vo acquired from a Sotheby’s auction of possessions belonging to the late Robert McNamara, former defense secretary for both Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and a driving force behind American involvement in the Vietnam War. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Danh Vo’s practice elucidates latent meaning embedded in objects and texts as well as the malleable nature of identity, melding private narratives with global political histories. For 2.2.1861 (2009– ), the artist asked his father, who is a skilled calligrapher, to transcribe the last communication from the French Catholic Saint Théophane Vénard to his own father before his execution for proselytizing in Vietnam. Repeatedly writing the work by hand, Phung Vo mails a copy of the letter to each of the work’s collectors, in a gesture that narrates a wider history of displacement and the vagaries of communicating across cultures. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Danh Vo’s practice elucidates latent meaning embedded in objects and texts as well as the malleable nature of identity, melding private narratives with global political histories. For Das Beste oder Nichts (2010), Vo appropriated the Mercedes-Benz engine from a car owned by his father Phung Vo, a Vietnamese refugee who had fled the country by boat with his family, became lost at sea, and immigrated to Denmark after being picked up by a Danish commercial ship. Borrowing the work’s title from the car company’s logo, the artist wryly comments on what constituted success for his family once assimilated in Europe. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Steeped in research, Ellie Ga’s performances and video installations occupy a space between history, science, myth, and memory. The artist bases these audiovisual essays on the model of the expedition: initially setting off in search of a particular topic, she allows her path to be swayed by chance interactions and unexpected discoveries. The resulting stories follow what she calls a “synaptic” logic, linking the legends and relics of the past with the daily routines of the present through a web of subjective associations. In Four Thousand Blocks (2013–14), Ga investigated the ancient Pharos lighthouse in Alexandria, Egypt, which stood in the Nile delta for 1,500 years but today lies in ruins underwater, with restricted access and no photography allowed. To learn more about this site’s history, Ga moved to Egypt shortly after the 2011 revolution as the country prepared to elect a new government. In the projection on the central screen, she recounts her journey while presenting documents on a glowing light box alongside video and audio footage. Framing this lyrical spoken narrative, two additional screens feature two related forms of storytelling that are fast disappearing: darkroom photography and letterpress typesetting. Weaving these varied formats into a seamless presentation, Ga poetically navigates the murky waters where fact becomes fiction and lived history becomes legend. (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Iván Navarro uses electric light as his primary medium, appropriating the austere visual language of Minimalism and imbuing it with political resonance. For Homeless Lamp, the Juice Sucker (2004–05), he built a grocery cart out of fluorescent tubes and with it wandered the gallery-lined streets of Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The luminous sculpture evokes the work of Dan Flavin while also referencing an object commonly repurposed by homeless people for storage and transportation. Scored to the Mexican revolutionary song “Juan Sin Tierra” (John the landless), the accompanying documentary video follows Navarro and a friend as they search for public electricity with which to illuminate the sculpture. Presenting the artist as a transient figure, Navarro offers a personal allegory for his early attempts to gain access to the New York art world as well as the difficulties faced by migrants in establishing connections with the place to which they have relocated. (Copyright Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Credits: Story

Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim was on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in the summer of 2015 and was curated by Katherine Brinson, Curator, Contemporary Art; Carmen Hermo, Assistant Curator, Collections; Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator; Nat Trotman, Associate Curator; and Joan Young, Director, Curatorial Affairs.

This online version of the exhibition does not include the video and performance works included in the original presentation.

For more information, please visit www.guggenheim.org/storylines.

All texts and images are copyright the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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