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The New Museum of Contemporary Art
235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002 40.722771 -73.992856
nr. Prince St.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
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  • Type of Show:

    Museum Exhibits, Postwar/Contemporary

Photo by David Rager/ Courtesy of the New Museum


$12, $8 seniors, $6 students, under 18 free


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“Unmonumental,” the inaugural 30-artist exhibition curated by Gioni, Hoptman, and Flood, is rife with signs of good curators working together while struggling against a shortage of space. The three-floor survey is insanely overcrowded, sometimes monotonous, and because so much of the art is cobbled together from knickknacks, it may strike uninitiated viewers as a weird sort of junk shop, particularly in this immaculate space. But “Unmonumental” is peppered with good work. It effectively codifies a trend in contemporary sculpture that involves the history of collage and assemblage, multiple narratives, complex combinations of handmade and found materials, and objects that you can walk around rather than room-filling sculptural installations. There are heavy art-historical doses of Dada, Duchamp, Constructivism, Arte Povera, Rauschenberg, and Cady Noland. Although all of the work in this show uses real-world objects both altered and unaltered, and therefore owes much to minimalism, this art is the opposite of the strong machine-made forms of that movement. The leading minimalist, Donald Judd, believed art should be “seen all at once,” scorning anything fragmentary or dependent on its relationship to other things. All the work in “Unmonumental” involves the “variations of a form,” “connecting parts,” and relationships Judd detested. Nothing in this show can be seen “all at once”; most of it involves amorphous, disorderly, or fragmentary structure and hybridity (“they grow like weeds,” as Gioni writes); little of it is permanent or solid looking; none of it is heroic or monumental. This work is connected to history but also in a kind of schizophrenic conflict with it.

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