Arts Partner: The Shed
“We’ll be lucky this art season if we get another exhibition as tautly beautiful as Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates at The Shed.” — The New York Times
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
The turn of the century and the next millennium will usher in a troubled environment and a troubled psyche.—Agnes Denes, 1990
Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates presents over 150 works that span Denes’s 50-year career. A pioneer in several mediums and art movements, Agnes Denes (b. Budapest, Hungary, 1931) continues to push artistic boundaries by using varied disciplines to explore the state of the world. Her work is at once public facing and self-analyzing. She uses this analysis to create lush, intricate forms out of geometric calculations and a singular visual philosophy that has coalesced over the course of her career. Since the 1960s, Denes has committed herself to investigating and visualizing knowledge—from mathematical structures to analytical thought—as a way to process what it means to be human in the world, and thus to alert us to humanitarian and environmental challenges by offering benevolent solutions.
Divided across two floors, the exhibition is organized by sections that correlate to major series and arcs in Denes’s career. The Level 4 Gallery presents an overview of her work: the two series “Philosophical Drawings” (1969 – 80) and “Map Projections” (1973 – 79), as well as realized monumental public works and unrealized projects, many of which center on environmental concerns. An early adopter of developing technology like computers, Denes was quick to explore new methods for art making while also executing many of her works by hand. In addition to her work made for computers in the early 1970s, she created one of the first hologram artworks, X-rayed flora and fauna, and developed printing techniques that allowed her to create 17-foot-long works. Her deep desire to be involved in every aspect of her art’s production led Denes to become well versed in a variety of techniques, scientific principles, philosophy, linguistics, ecology, and—in the case of her now iconic Wheatfield—A Confrontation (1982), a public art project on the then Battery Park landfill—harvest schedules, agronomy, and landfill conversions.
The Level 2 Gallery is solely dedicated to her “Pyramid Series” (1970 –). This seminal body of work is presented through numerous sculptures, drawings, and prints in which Denes breaks down the shape to its simplest plane, uses complex mathematical equations to push the shape into new forms, and contemplates the centuries to come through these new forms. Preoccupied with climate change and its impact on humanity, a subset of this series is her “Future City,” drawings that center on a possible future that demands society’s ability to adapt to a new world. Within this series, Denes imagines a new world order where, after millennia of people operating in thoughtless ways, philosophy and introspection are the dominant methodologies for navigating the future.
Among works on paper, sculptures, and archival material are three new commissions created specifically for The Shed. Ahead of her time, Denes’s imagination often has to wait for technology to catch up to her da Vinci-esque plans. Model for Probability Pyramid—Study for Crystal Pyramid (2019) is based on a 1976 drawing from the “Pyramid Series.” This monumental work designed originally for 160,000 glass bricks is here comprised of nearly 6,000 compostable 3-D-printed bricks, and builds into a pyramid that gracefully slopes up 17 feet above the gallery floor. Denes has also created two models for yet unrealized projects, Teardrop Monument to Being Earthbound (1984) and A Forest for New York (2014). Each model focuses on her explorations of a future metropolis and the rehabilitation of environmentally fraught spaces.
Indefatigably curious, Denes continuously expands the scope of her work across ideas, forms, and processes to reveal a prophetic vision of humanity—a vision that assesses our reality but keeps a hopeful eye to the future.
**Please Note: The maximum group size for this exhibition is 5.**
**Please Note: Sales for weekend shows will close on Friday at 4pm. Please be sure to purchase tickets for Saturday and Sunday shows the Friday before at 4pm, after that tickets will no longer be available for purchase.**
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- January 19, 2020
11:00 am - 6:00 pm
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