21 MAY – 02 OCT 2011
Rua D. João de Castro, 210, 4150-417 Porto, Portugal

The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art is to present the exhibition, “Off the Wall/Fora da Parede”, between May and October 2011, organised by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and curated by Chrissie Iles – the Whitney Museum’s curator, who curated the last two editions of the Whitney Biennial of contemporary American art.

Throughout the 20th century, numerous artists interwove different artistic genres and forms of expression, thus reinventing different modes of artistic production. A work of art can no longer be viewed solely as a mere painting or drawing, to be hung upon a wall, or a sculpture to be put on a plinth. The visual arts have forged bridges with cinema, photography, sound experimentation and arts of movement, that explore new languages and are constantly redefining themselves. From the famous Ballets Russes of the early 20th century to contemporary choreographers such as Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Ivonne Rainer, Steve Paxton or Deborah Hay, this process of interweaving different traditions has spawned a rich history. The “spatial arts” (i.e. the visual arts) thereby intersect with the “temporal arts” (i.e. all performing arts, including those involving moving images).

The exhibition “Off the Wall”/”Fora da Parede” assembles around 100 works, involving performance initiatives by artists, produced from 1946 to the present day. Many pertain to the Whitney Museum’s Collection – one of the largest contemporary archives dedicated to the relationship between the visual arts and performing arts.

Alongside the works of the aforementioned choreographers, key works will also be presented by renowned artists such as Carl Andre, John Baldessari, Jenny Holzer, Joan Jonas, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Longo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Paul MacCarthy, Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono, Claes Oldenburg, Dennis Oppenheim, Tony Oursler, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol, and many others.

The exhibition will illustrate the fact that some of the 20th-century’s most ambitious interdisciplinary experiences involving the improvisation arts, were protagonised by a large group of artists working collectively in New York, who intersected art with everyday life and sowed the seeds for that which was later called “post-modernism”. Improvisation was one of the great novelties embraced by 20th century art, starting with the early modernist movements. In effect, improvisation constitutes one of the most innovative characteristics of the avant-garde movements – from Dadaism to Surrealism, from Futurism to Constructivism – combined with the use of random occurrences and collaboration between artists who often harboured different artistic languages, genres and practices.

This experience of the early avant-garde movements was revisited in the 1960s and 1970s, thus redefining the nature of the artistic process and its results, frequently incorporating the spectator, and building collective and collaborative platforms between highly differentiated areas, such as the visual arts, performance, dance, music, theatre, cinema and video. Today, this long history is one of the most important references for development of the work of young contemporary artists in all these fields.

More abour OFF THE WALL from the Whitney show here.