PHYLLIDA BARLOW: SCREE
RELATED PROGRAMS BEGIN JUNE 14
June 21 — September 22, 2013
I. M. Pei and Anna K. Meredith Galleries
On June 20, the Des Moines Art Center will open the exhibition Phyllida Barlow: Scree, which runs
through September 22, 2013 in the Upper I. M. Pei and Anna K. Meredith galleries. Organized by Senior Curator Gilbert Vicario, Scree will include three large-scale sculptural installations, 55 works on paper, and a group of works from the Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections selected by the artist. Since the 1960s, Phyllida Barlow (born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1944) has produced a unique and dynamic body of work focused on the investigation into materiality, form, and process in the wake of the Minimalist and Post-minimalist art movements of the 60s and 70s. Counter to the reductive, hard-edged, and industrially-manufactured works of artists such as Donald Judd, Sol Le Witt, Frank Stella, and Dan Flavin, Barlow works with diverse materials on a size and scale that creates massive organic shapes and accumulations that directly relate to the urban environment. Barlow’s varied materials are central to her artistic practice and have included such items as carpet felt, polythene, rags, rubber tarpaulin, bitumen, upholstery foam, handkerchiefs, sellotape, paper, timber, silk, foil, canvas, and plaster. Some of the materials are bought and some are found, and yet others become available by chance such as the carpet material used in a site-specific piece titled Threat, 1986, which came from a fire-damaged factory. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Barlow’s work was characterized by a continual free flowing process of production and deconstruction in which materials were constantly used, recycled and re-appropriated into subsequent projects and objects.
Phyllida Barlow’s exhibition for the Des Moines Art Center will both respond to and reside within the architecture of the I. M. Pei wing of the museum. Built in 1968, this classically Brutalist architecture with its poured concrete structure, rigid geometry, and expansive windows forms the perfect backdrop to the artist’s continual investigation of and response to the Minimalist legacy. A current preoccupation for Barlow centers on the notion of gravity and verticality. The Pei wing
will provide ample opportunity to explore these aspects given its 15-foot ceiling height. The works chosen from the Art Center’s Permanent Collections will occupy an adjacent gallery, and will comprise objects in dialogue with a selection of her drawings produced between 1965 and 2013. These may include works of art that have been particularly central to her artistic development as a sculptor, such as those of Louise Bourgeois and Yayoi Kusama; or works that share an affinity with her practice such as those of Magdalena Abakanowicz and Eva Hesse. This two-pronged exhibition
model will expose North American audiences to the immensely creative practice of an under-recognized artist, while providing a new perspective and engaging analysis of key works in the
Art Center’s Permanent Collections. Phyllida Barlow: Scree will include a fully illustrated
catalog documenting the exhibition installation, along with contributions by Vicario, Barlow, and artist Alexandre da Cunha.
Phyllida Barlow: Scree is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.