New Spaces / No Faces

Insults to the Public

Bernardi Roig, Insults to the Public, 2007. Polyester resin, marble dust, and TV/Video monitor. 22 4/5 x 8 1/4 x 9 in. Private Collection. Photos: Annie Dolan

In just a few days we say goodbye to Bernardi Roig’s six sculptures that have truly become a part of the Phillips’s landscape over the past five months. A lengthy exhibition time is fitting given the inconspicuous nature of the works, placed in unsuspecting spaces throughout the galleries. For frequent visitors to the museum, it might have taken a couple of walkthroughs to find all six. That was precisely Roig’s aim: to activate areas of the museum typically not used for exhibition space.

The smallest of the sculptures, Insults to the Public (2007) is the most inconspicuous of all, hidden in an elevator bank on the second floor of the original Phillips house. Although the smallest in size, Insults to the Public is the only one with an audio component coming from the small LCD screen featuring a speaking portrait. The colorless, faceless plaster sculpture is therefore not only illuminated by the vibrant lights coming from the screen, but also brought to life by the moving image which seems to be lecturing the weary figure leaning against it. With distorted bodily proportions and suggestive body language, Roig’s miniature standing figure evokes a feeling of simultaneous exhaustion, shame, and defeat.

My interpretation of this work is that the man on the screen could easily be the face of the sculpture himself. With a hanging head and a faceless expression, the man has no identity, yet his bald head matches the bald head on the screen in front of him. Is the speaking man giving his own tired body a critical lecture? This added dimension makes Insults to the Public one of the most thought provoking of the six sculptures given the suggestion of self-inspection.

We might have to say “goodbye” for now to Bernardi Roig’s sculptures, but we’ll always look at the spaces they inhabited with a new level of appreciation, remembering these haunting sculptures.

Annie Dolan, Marketing and Communications Intern

 

Four Things You Didn’t Know About Hiroshi Sugimoto

Sugimoto portrait

Hiroshi Sugimoto. Image courtesy of the artist

In a gallery adjacent to Man Ray–Human Equations: A Journey from Mathematics to Shakespeare, you’ll find photographs and sculptures by contemporary Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto. His exhibition at the Phillips, Hiroshi Sugimoto: Conceptual Forms and Mathematical Models, is on view through May 10, 2015.

1) Sugimoto’s work on view at the Phillips is largely inspired by Marcel Duchamp, particularly the Dadaist’s obsession with the mechanics of space and the mathematical foundations of his work.

2) He is best known for his time-exposed photography. Among his most recognized works are his series Theatres, which are shot for the full length of each movie’s projection, and Seascapes, a series of horizon lines formed by bodies of water whose movements have been blurred into stillness by Sugimoto’s long exposures.

3) All of the sculptures on view in this exhibition are derived from infinity equations. As is apparent from his time-exposed photography, time and history are significant themes in Sugimoto’s work, ranging from human time to cosmological time. Each sculpture is to be thought of as infinitely expanding, just as the universe continues to expand from a point of singularity.

4) His sculptures are created using computer-controlled, precision milling machines, and are crafted from solid blocks of aluminum.

Through The Lens of Sculpture

morris_roig

Bernardi Roig’s The Man of the Light (2005), as seen through Morris Graves’s Weather Prediction Instruments for Meteorologists (1962 / completed 1999)

Director of the Center and Curator-at-Large Klaus Ottmann recently replaced the galleries previously occupied by A Tribute to Anita Reiner with a new installation highlighting works from the permanent collection, including a handful of sculptures. The works interact with Bernardi Roig‘s installation in the stairwell, as well as the surrounding paintings, in an interesting way. Here’s a peek inside the galleries.

morris graves

Morris Graves, Weather Prediction Instruments for Meteorologists, 1962/completed 1999. Brass slag, stained glass, marble, propeller, and nickel-plated brass, 36 1/4 x 18 x 17 3/4 in.(H w/ base, W is largest diameter, D is length of base). The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Gift of Penelope Schmidt and Robert Yarber, 2001

Weather Prediction Instruments for Meteorologists, 1962/completed 1999, Brass slag, stained glass, marble, propeller, and nickel-plated brass 36 1/4 x 18 x 17 3/4 in.; 92.075 x 45.72 x 45.085 cm. (H w/ base, W is largest diameter, D is length of base). Gift of Penelope Schmidt and Robert Yarber, 2001

smith_diebenkorn

David Smith’s Bouquet of Concaves (1950) with Richard Diebenkorn’s Girl with Plant (1960) and Boy by Bernard Karfiol (n.d.)