Pierre Bismuth

24 March to 28 April 2007
745 Fifth Avenue


On 24 March 2007, the Mary Boone Gallery, in conjunction with a show opening 29 March at Team Gallery, will open at both its Fifth Avenue and Chelsea locations “One Size Fits All”, the first solo exhibition in the United States of work by PIERRE BISMUTH.

Pierre Bismuth is one of France’s foremost artists and a leading figure in conceptual art. Known for his intelligent dismantling of cultural products and the wry and often humorous shifts and ‘misuses’ to which he subjects his material, Bismuth’s work constitutes a creative intervention into familiar codes, habits and objects.

At Mary Boone on Fifth Avenue, street graffiti meets sixties conceptualism in “Most Wanted Men”, a series of artworks employing tags of famous contemporary artists over tourist photographs of New York. Combining media culture’s fascination with celebrities, graffiti art, and a reflection on the function of the signature, “Most Wanted Men” exemplifies one of Bismuth’s basic creative strategies: to make a work out of the structuring conventions of other artworks and mass media products in order to expose different mechanisms of visibility and meaning creation.

For Mary Boone in Chelsea, Bismuth presents an innovative new creation that plays both with the notion of the readymade and the commercial aesthetics of pop art. In a curious reversal, the advertisement for the show itself becomes the featured artwork: the pages announcing the exhibition in the March issues of Artforum and Art in America (both front and back sides) are blown up to gigantic dimensions and take over the gallery space. Whereas normally the magazine serves as a vehicle of expression for the gallery, here the gallery becomes the vehicle for the presentation of the magazine. The artwork and its representation, object and publicity, are conflated. The advertisements themselves resemble color field paintings which, when enlarged, change from monochromes into polychromes as the colored dot pattern is rendered visible. Contingency plays an important part in this work as well: the gallery is made into the unlikely advertising agent of other galleries’ shows, shown on the reverse side of Bismuth’s own ads.

The exhibition at Team Gallery will feature the new and strikingly beautiful photographic series “One man’s masterpiece is another man’s mess”. These large-scale black and white photographs of shattered glass, with their intricate and sinuous spider web patterns, are evocative of the cracked “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even” (The Large Glass) by Marcel Duchamp. Here, however, there is nothing behind the damaged pane — the only ‘masterpiece’ to be seen is the ‘mess’ itself. The images were created by first breaking empty glass slide covers, then photographing and enlarging the results. This procedure ironically transforms a standard material used to present images into images themselves, while also making the particular designs dependent on a (literally) chance collision.

“One man’s masterpiece is another man’s mess” is closely related to another work on display, “Following the right hand of...”. In this latest installment of the series, the piece appears as a video projection rather than a still image. We watch a squiggly line being drawn onscreen as a classic movie unfolds, tracing the movements of the right hand of the main actress. In this way, the film image is gradually occluded by a chance pattern that constitutes a kind of messy signature made by the actress. There is an undeniably fetishistic aspect of this work, as a portion of its appeal is linked to the actress’s name (Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, etc.); at the same time, the focus on the squiggly marks paradoxically negates the film, along with its star, by filling the screen with black ink.

The exhibitions at all three locations will run through 28 April 2007. Please contact the Gallery if we can be of further assistance, or visit our website www.maryboonegallery.com.