November 16, 2015

William Anastasi: Puzzle, Sandra Gering Inc, New York

William Anastasi: Puzzle
Sandra Gering Inc, New York
November 17, 2015 - January 9, 2016

SANDRA GERING INC. presents Puzzle, WILLIAM ANASTASI’s sixth one-person exhibition with the gallery. 

Throughout William Anastasi’s career as a seminal figure in the field of Conceptual Art, semantics and tautology have long played significant roles. The subject of pairing in particular has been a recurring theme since as early as 1967, when William Anastasi’s Six Sites exhibition at the Virginia Dwan Gallery featured the gallery’s walls photographically rendered on canvas, then hung on the same walls. Repetition has also been embraced in William Anastasi’s well-known subway drawings, a continuing series of unsighted works on paper the artist creates while drawing blind on the train, letting the motion of the car dictate the chance markings on paper as pure gesture. Circular reasoning informs William Anastasi’s puzzle works. Aside from the obvious playfulness of the subject (humor being one of the least talked-about aspects of this artist’s oeuvre), the puzzle as metaphor first appeared in 1975, when the Museum of Modern Art commissioned William Anastasi to design a jigsaw puzzle for their store. The result was iconic, as his design was to create a puzzle-themed puzzle, similar in concept to his wall-on-a-wall works. It was popular enough to re-issue in a second color version, of which the current exhibition’s shaped paintings are based. Hung in pairs, the exhibition room itself becomes a sort of game, unresolvable in this instance as the room only holds a fraction of the series. Upon seeing the first enlarged piece in William Anastasi’s studio, John Cage inquired how many pieces were in the puzzle’s box. When William Anastasi replied with the number, John Cage’s response was ‘Well then you’ve made 513 masterpieces!’ Puzzle also poetically references Anastasi and Cage’s many hours spent over a chessboard, silently engaged in a game of a different sort.

WILLIAM ANASTASI was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1933. The recipient of the 2010 John Cage Award, Anastasi is in nearly every major permanent collection, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, NY; The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The Guggenheim Museum, NY; The Art Institute of Chicago, IL; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; The Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA; The Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; The Ludwig Museum, Germany; Center for Contemporary Art, Malmo, Sweden; The Jewish Museum, NY; and The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, among many others. He has had solo exhibitions at The Neuberger Museum of Art, NY; The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA; The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; and The Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf. His work was recently featured in William Anastasi: Sound Works 1963-2013, at the Hunter College Art Galleries, NY in October 2013. A comprehensive monograph on the artist, William Anastasi: Paintings, Small Works, Drawings has been published by Emilio Mazzoli, Modena, Italy. William Anastasi lives and works in New York, NY.

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