New Acquisitions 2
Nov 9, 2007 – Sep 20, 2008

A year and a half ago we presented an installation of recently acquired works by emerging artists. That installation was a particularly pleasurable experience since, unlike the precision, rigor, and deliberate planning required to evolve the historical installations that form the backbone of The Rachofsky Collection, New Acquisitions of 2006 was a place to experiment and ask questions rather than search for answers—to collect based more on "why not" than "why."

Our engagement with emergent art has grown, and just over a year later we find we have acquired enough new work by younger artists to fill the house again. Unlike the previous new acquisitions display, in which painting and other two-dimensional work predominated, the current installation highlights new three-dimensional works. Although each of the pieces in this presentation is the result of different sensibilities, techniques, and even cultural conditions, it is especially rewarding to discover how they resonate together. These particular acquisitions have also allowed us to indulge a longstanding desire to fill the house (itself a great piece of sculptural architecture) with large-scale sculptures.

We have been fortunate to acquire some particularly ambitious sculptural works. Kris Martin’s Mandi VIII reconfigures one of the greatest sculptures in the history of art (the Laocoön) to subvert the original’s innovative use of narrative and to examine content and authenticity from a contemporary perspective. Guy Ben-Ner’s Treehouse Kit, which was first shown at the Venice Biennale of 2005, is both a hilarious send-up of early low-tech video art (and likely a commentary on today’s high production value video art) and a provocative inquiry into function and meaning the installation and their variability. And a group of sculptures by Sterling Ruby, including Elliptic Umbilic/Fait Accompli, takes the heroic perfection of high Modern geometric sculpture—a lineage that worked hard to free the sculptural object from its need for external support—and undermines it by "supporting" it with a kind of buttress, or crutch, whose words further disrupt its autonomy, reconnecting its physicality with the body and linking it back to representation, from which it endeavored to be freed.

Indeed, the ruins of Modernism are everywhere in this installation, and the urge to reclaim and redirect it into a more vernacular and psychological sphere could well be this installation’s leitmotif.

Allan Schwartzman
Director of The Rachofsky Collection
January 2008