Julie Mehretu, artist, in conversation with Judith Brodie, curator and head, department of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art. Julie Mehretu is best known for large-scale, densely packed paintings that combine meticulous rendering and seemingly spontaneous abstract gesture. Her work, including drawings and prints, is built up from multiple layers of archival, geographical, meteorological, and architectural imagery—designs, plans, diagrams, blueprints, ruins, charts, and graphs—traced and punctuated with calligraphic marks and obscuring erasures. She maps the histories of civilizations past and present, engaging with issues of social organization, globalization, and geopolitical connectivity. Mehretu has completed collaborative projects at professional printmaking studios across the United States, among them Gemini G.E.L in Los Angeles and Crown Point Press in San Francisco. For the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series at the National Gallery of Art, Mehretu joined Judith Brodie on November 17, 2013 to discuss her career and artistic process, which can be seen firsthand in two prints: Circulation, in the Gallery’s collection, and Circulation (working proof 9), on view through January 5, 2014 in the exhibition Yes, No, Maybe: Artists Working at Crown Point Press.
Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series
The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series provides a forum for distinguished artists to discuss the genesis and evolution of their work in their own words. Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein–Spielvogel and the Honorable Carl Spielvogel generously endowed this series to make such conversations available to the public.
Joel Shapiro, artist
On October 28, 2012 at the National Gallery of Art, Joel Shapiro presents a lecture on his nearly 50-year career as part of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series. Born in 1941 in New York City, Shapiro received BA and MA degrees from New York University. Since his first exhibition in 1970, Shapiro has become one of the most widely exhibited American sculptors and the subject of many solo exhibitions and retrospectives, and his work can now be found in numerous public collections in the United States and abroad. His work, from early minimal objects to increasingly expansive and complex forms, has always dealt with such central issues of the sculptural tradition as size and scale, balance and imbalance, figuration and abstraction. He believes that all sculpture is a projection of thought into the world, and he strives to create intimacy and vitality in all his projects. Shapiro lives and works in New York City. The Gallery owns 16 works by the artist, including drawings, prints, and sculptures.
Ann Hamilton presented a lecture on her nearly 30-year career as part of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series at the National Gallery of Art on September 16, 2011. Hamilton has made multimedia installations with stunning qualities and quantities of materials: a room lined with small canvas dummies, a table spread with human and animal teeth, the artist herself wearing a man's suit covered in a layer of thousands of toothpicks. Along the way, she has constantly set and reset the course of contemporary art. Often using sound, found objects, and the spoken and written word, as well as photography and video, her objects and environments invite us to embark on sensory and metaphorical explorations of time, language, and memory. Textiles and fabric have consistently played an important role in her performances and installations—whether she is considering clothing as a membrane or (more recently) treating architecture itself as a kind of skin. The Gallery owns 15 works by the artist, including photographs, prints, sculptures, and a video installation.
Brice Marden continues to make some of the most surprising and ravishing paintings of our time. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was known for matte, monochromatic paintings, often with multiple panels. His 1984 visit to an exhibition of Japanese calligraphy triggered a dramatic shift in style that culminated in a masterful series of gestural paintings and drawings entitled Cold Mountain. Since that time, through several further changes in vocabulary, Marden has continued to explore linear networks as the basis for ambitious, allover abstractions. In this video, recorded in October 2009 in the artist's Manhattan studio, Marden discusses his technique, sources of inspiration, and works in progress with Harry Cooper, curator and head of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art.
In her breakthrough 1990 work Ghost, Rachel Whiteread created a positive from a negative, making a plaster cast of the interior "void" of a Victorian parlor measuring approximately 9 feet wide, 11 1/2 feet high, and 10 feet deep. Whiteread has said of this sculpture that she was trying to "mummify the air in the room," hence the title. Whiteread created Ghost over a period of three months in an abandoned building at 486 Archway Road, North London, covering the interior walls with multiple plaster molds, each about five inches thick. When the plaster dried, she peeled the molds from the walls and reassembled them on a steel frame. In this interview Whiteread discusses the process of making Ghost and lends new insight to her work.
Over the course of three days, from February 14 to 16, 2007, Mel Bochner and his assistant Nicholas Knight installed Theory of Boundariesat the National Gallery of Art. The work, whose size is determined by the length of the wall on which it is installed, consists of four squares of equal size, each separated by a space equal to one-third of the width of a single square. Following the principles determined by the "language fraction" of each square (hence the work's title, Theory of Boundaries), dry pigment is applied directly to the wall, with each of the four squares demonstrating a different relationship of the color surface to its border and state of enclosure.