Curated by Todd von Ammon
VIP Preview + Gala March 7
Member Preview March 14
Opening Day March 15
On view through August 16
MOCA Westport is pleased to present an exhibition of works by Helmut Lang, curated by Todd von Ammon, on view to the public beginning on Sunday March 15 and continuing through August 16, 2020. The exhibition demonstrates the continued evolution of Lang’s contributions to culture and art.
The sculptures on view tell a personal narrative that is universally relatable: reinvention of oneself. Beit a shift in a career, a change in personal relationships, or a growth in beliefs, we shed a past and rebuild a new self. Former fashion designer Helmut Lang looks only to the future by shredding the products of his past life and using those raw materials to compose new forms of intrigue and beauty.
With two distinct projects, Lang has set a stage in the galleries at MoCA Westport—allowing the viewer wander through a forest-like immersive experience.
One needn’t be a dedicated follower of fashion to have memories of Lang, one of the most forward-thinking designers to ever work in the industry. Lang became a household name in the 1990s and was known for his minimal yet romantic aesthetic and collaborations with Jenny Holzer, Louise Bourgeois and the estate of Robert Mapplethorpe. Lang said goodbye to all that in 2005. And if there was any doubt that he meant it, in 2010, after a fire destroyed most of his archive, he completed the job, using the remains as material for his mostly abstract art.
Lang’s work is a disavowal of the illusion of time as periodic, tidy and rational. The sculptures on view portray history as entropic and digestive, a suggestion that the truest character of forms is their tendency to dissolve and transform through time.
The first gallery hosts a self-contained exhibition of all-white wall-reliefs and sculptures. These wall-mounted planes, pillars and spikes are embedded within a practice defined by ruin, accretion and preservation of materials which typically takes on the charred and blackened complexions of decay. The planes—whose pale tones allude to bones and ashes—hang abutted to one another like altarpiece panels, and the mounds and spikes resemble an abstracted reliquary. This mise-en-scene is a striking corollary to the brunt of Lang’s exhibitions to date.
The second gallery contains a site-specific configuration of sixty-three of Lang’s celebrated “pillar” sculptures. which share a common medium: a multitude of shredded and crushed objects and materials suspended in pigmented resin. This loamy, fibrous sculptural composite material consists of Lang’s destroyed design archive. Leaving a previous career behind, the artist staged an intentional cataclysm and has been making new work from its wreckage ever since. The lean, crusted pillars arranged in a loose grid stand freely in seeming precarity, with small gaps between one another through which the viewer may travel. This second installation, while aggressively economical in its content, provides an immersion into Lang’s ocean of material language.
-Todd von Ammon
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Todd von Ammon is a gallerist, curator and writer based in Washington, DC. Curated projects have included Botanica at Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco, Wormwood at Ellis King Gallery in Dublin, VBS at The Helen Frankenthaler Gallery at Bennington College in Vermont and 100 Sculptures at Anonymous Gallery in Mexico City. Todd recently opened his own gallery, von ammon co., in the Georgetown area of DC where he has presented solo exhibitions of work by Tabor Robak, Jacob Kassay and Helmut Lang as well as a group exhibition entitled Focus Group. He is a regular contributor to CURA Magazine and a member of The Independent Curators International.
Born in Vienna 1956, Helmut Lang lives and works in New York and on Long Island. In 2004, Lang walked away from a groundbreaking career in fashion for good to pursue his original calling as an artist. Hailed for the rigorous and direct ethos of his forms and choice of materials, he has been met with similar acclaim for his art.
Since 2005, Lang has permanently turned away from creations in direct context with the human body, and has since turned his focus exclusively to two and three-dimensional artworks which subtly allude to notions of the figure using different mediums such as sculpture, wall pieces, installations and videos, predominantly built from found and readily available materials.
In his former occupation, he left an everlasting imprint on contemporary culture and how it is communicated by redefining fashion codes and the modus operandi. His undeniable influence continues to reverberate to the present day.
He simultaneously produced his own artwork while collaborating and exhibiting with different artists, most notably with Louise Bourgeois and Jenny Holzer, which has broken collateral ground in the recent resurgence of collaborations between fashion and art.
Select past solo exhibitions have been held at Sperone Westwater, New York; Sammlung Friedrichshof, Vienna; Stadtraum, Vienna; Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover; Deste Foundation, Athens; Dallas Contemporary, Dallas; The Journal Gallery, Brooklyn.
SELECT PRESS + INTERVIEWS
Special thanks to von ammon co. and the artist, who have generously loaned the pieces for this exhibition.