Allen Ruppersberg: The art of give and take

Installation View at SMMoA

Allen Ruppersberg, “Poems and Placemats,” 2008, 48 x48″ each, mixed media. Courtesy Margo Leavin Gallery.

On the LA Times blog, Christopher Knight reports that Allen Ruppersberg’s show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art is surprisingingly poignant. “Using the span of human lifetimes, including his own, Ruppersberg compiles printed matter of many different but familiar kinds to quietly escalate an elemental awareness of impermanence and change. Keyed to vernacular objects and mechanically reproduced images � books, records, newspaper clippings, family photo albums, postcards, snapshots, magazines and more � his work is like a mountainous archive of half-remembered, shared events from the not-too-distant past, temporarily sorted in the midst of slipping into inevitable decay. Wave goodbye to Grandma.

�’You and Me and the Art of Give and Take,” as the surprisingly poignant exhibition is called, includes two new large-scale installations and a selection of 10 drawings and collages made between 1985 and 1989. Among those drawings is an exquisite set that clarifies Ruppersberg’s objective. Titled ‘The Gift and the Inheritance,’ each is a pencil rendering that shows a single book from Ruppersberg’s extensive library � Shakespeare, Baudelaire, Horatio Alger Jr. and even a ‘Tick Tock Tales’ comic. The books are rendered diagonally on the page, in careful perspective as if glimpsed resting on a tabletop; but, in fact, the images are adrift in the blank white space of the sheet. The result is an uncanny sense of materiality given to an illusion � of drawing as both an activity in time and a physical object in space….

“Ruppersberg’s use of soft, dark graphite emphasizes inescapable relationships between drawing and writing, as well as their considerable differences. According to a wall text, each of these drawings comes with a pledge that, in the future, the actual book Ruppersberg drew will be sent to the drawing’s owner as a bequest from the artist. An unexpected sense of yearning begins to surround the work � a longing to know the past recorded in the historical publication, as well as for the promised inheritance that will arrive at an unknowable moment in the future.” Read more.

Allen Ruppersberg: You and Me or the Art of Give and Take,� curated by Constance Lewallen. Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA. Through December 19.

Also check out “The Five Foot Shelf,” an online project on Dia’s website, here.  “Allen Ruppersberg’s first web-based project presents the contents of “The New Five Foot Shelf,” a collection of books comprising nearly 800 pages of texts written and compiled by the artist, in addition to photographs of the four walls of the studio he occupied at 611 Broadway in New York City from 1986-2001. ‘A recurring interest of mine has always been in the blurring of roles between artist and viewer and the repositioning of the audience in order to bring it more in line with the action of the artist.'”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *