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Damage Control: Art and Destruction since 1950
Now - May 26, 2014
Art and Destruction is the first in-depth exploration of the theme of destruction in international contemporary visual culture. This ground-breaking exhibition includes works by a diverse range of international artists working in painting, sculpture, photography, film, installation, and performance. It reaches beyond art to enable a broader understanding of culture and society in the aftermath of World War II, under the looming fear of total annihilation in the atomic age, and up to the present. It explores the continuing use that artists have made of destruction as part of the creative process, sometimes sinister, sometimes playful, often iconoclastic, and always challenging.
Barbara Kruger: Belief + Doubt
This site-specific installation by Barbara Kruger (American, b. Newark, NJ, 1945) wraps the entire lower-level lobby in text-printed white vinyl against fields of black and red. Covering the walls, floor, and escalator sides, this immersive piece explores themes of democracy, doubt, and belief. The resulting environment is a visually spectacular hall of voices that envelops visitors as they descend from the ground level. Reading becomes a whole-body experience, with phrases revealing themselves only as the spectator circulates through the space.
Outdoor Sculptures: Plaza and Sculpture Garden
Plaza and Sunken Sculpture Garden
Hirshhorn Plaza: The plaza redesign, by landscape architect James Urban (completed in 1993), includes granite surfaces, trees and other plantings, areas of lawn, an outdoor pathway, and ramp accessibility from the northwest end of the Ripley Garden.
Works on view include: Spatial Concept: Nature (1959-60, cast 1965) by Lucio Fontana; Subcommittee (1991) by Tony Cragg; Needle Tower (1968) Kenneth Snelson; Last Conversation Piece (1994-95) by Juan Munoz; Geometric Mouse: Variation 1, Scale A (1971) by Claes Odenburg; Antipodes (1997) by Jim Sanborn; and Throwback (1976-79) by Tony Smith.
• Brushstroke: This 32-foot-high by 20-foot-wide towering black-and-off-white painted aluminum sculpture reinforced with I-beams is one of the last examples of Roy Lichtenstein's (American, 1923-1997) ongoing engagement with the brushstroke motif. Based on a model created in 1996, it was enlarged and fabricated 2002-2003 by Amaral Custom Fabrications in Massachusetts under the supervision of the Lichtenstein estate. Installed week of September 16, 2003, on the Plaza near Jefferson Drive.
Sunken Sculpture Garden: The garden's extensive renovation that included making it wheelchair accessible with new landscaping and reinstallation of approximately 75 contemporary sculptures was completed Sept. 15, 1981.
Works on view include: The Drummer by Flanagan; Nymph by Maillol; Burghers of Calais, Monument to Balzac, and Walking Man by Rodin; Horse and Rider by Marini. Other sculptors represented include de Kooning, Giacometti, Lipchitz, Manzu, Miro, Moore, Shea, and Smith.
• For Gordon Bunshaft 2007: This site-specific work by conceptual artist Dan Graham consists of a triangular pavilion with two-way mirrors (with glass doors to enter the structure) and an open wooden lattice that stands approximately 7.5-foot tall. The two-way mirrors allow visitors inside and outside to simultaneously see themselves, each other, and the surrounding landscape. Graham describes this mirror-and-wood structure as a hybrid because one side is derived from traditional Japanese architecture while the other two sides allude to modern corporate architecture and Bunshaft's design of the iconic Hirshhorn building. Installed near the reflecting pool in the Sunken Sculpture Garden May 30, 2008.
Permanent/Indefinite: Collection Highlights
Lower Level, 2nd Floor, 3rd Floor
Collection Highlights is a rotating display of works from the museum's permanent collection. Each installation offers a different grouping of works gathered around a theme or individual artists and provides new ways of looking at its diverse holdings as well as in-depth exploration of notable artists. These installations often display rarely seen or innovative recent works as well as favorite masterpieces.
Lower Level: Black Box theater dedicated to recent moving-image works and galleries showcasing temporary installations.
2nd Floor: This level features changing exhibitions and works from the collection.
3rd Floor: Here, find single-artist galleries devoted to works by Clyfford Still, Willem de Kooning, and Ellsworth Kelly. Also see temporary installations. Note: A portion of the permanent collection galleries on the third floor is closed through September 2013.
Article on Hirshhorn Museum, see Smithsonian magazine: April 2007, pp. 39-40.