A Rachofsky Collection Primer
Nov 6, 2008 – Apr 28, 2009

The current installation was conceived around the desire to present those artworks that together most fully define the spirit and range of The Rachofsky Collection. Not all the works here are the most "valuable," or the most identifiable as masterpieces—although many are—but each serves as an essential particle in forming the collection's intellectual, visual, and sensate infrastructure.

Each room focuses on a different aspect of the collection. The entrance gallery and dining room feature some of the most historically catalytic works in the collection, including Donald Judd's Untitled (1965), perhaps the first freestanding work that fully articulates the artist's vision; Mario Merz's Vento preistorico dalle montagne (1967), the breakthrough work that is a kind of manifesto in which the artist abandons the rectangle of painting and spills into the real and shared space of the viewer; Robert Irwin's Untitled (1968-69), the work that coalesces the artist's decision to abandon the limits of the object for the limitlessness of perception; Richard Serra's Clothes Pin Prop (1969-76), one of the artist's earliest "prop" works; and Laurie Anderson's Handphone Table-Remembering Sound (1979), a utilitarian-looking table that uses the viewer as a surrogate performer whose body "completes" the work in the process of experiencing it.

The stair landing, second-floor sitting room, and the second-floor back hallway explore the more psychological sides of the collection, with works from the 1960s through the 1990s that delve into the examination of the self and identity in late modern and postmodern art. In a related vein, the works in the living room look at the self in relation to architecture and the society that creates it. In contrast, the library contains the most essential nonobjective works from Europe and the United States of the 1950s and 60s, paintings and objects that set the stage for the larger and somewhat later works of the entrance gallery.

On the third floor, works in the bedroom focus on the reemergence of painting as an essential medium in the 1980s and 90s, while works on the landing and in the bathroom look more closely at a sense of fragmentation of the self of the last two decades of the twentieth century. And finally, the works in the kitchen focus on a range of new voices that have emerged in the last decade. Dotted throughout the house are five paintings by On Kawara, one from each decade in which the artist has worked.

This collection, like most contemporary art collections, is a living entity that is constantly being rethought as art and the world that motivates it evolve. Perhaps in a few years we will do another installation along these lines, and perhaps it will look somewhat different.

Allan Schwartzman
Director of The Rachofsky Collection
January 2009