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Behind the Exhibit: Close at Hand at Gagosian

This unconventional group show includes Picasso and a mime

On January 9, Gagosian San Francisco will present “Close at Hand,” a group show of modern and contemporary sculpture dating from present day to Picasso. In contrast to Gagosian New York’s recent exhibition of Jeff Koons’s high-gloss, maximalist “Celebration” sculptures, the West Coast outpost’s assembly will focus on small scales and diverse media – from ceramics to the conceptual and immaterial.

Casting, 2015 by Alex Israel. © Alex Israel. Courtesy the Artist and Gagosian. Photography by Joshua White.

The idea, according to organizer Charlie Spalding, was to highlight sculpture that exists in relation to the human body. “You have to get close to see it and start to think about them in relation to your own scale,” he says.

Though the collection as a whole fosters intimacy, each artist employs a unique strategy to connect with the viewer. Two bronze sculptures, for example, represent varying artistic processes; Picasso’s 1958 two-foot cast of a male figure stands upright on the floor, while Tatiana Trouvé’s litter-like bronze casts of water bottles, cans, and cardboard scraps hang from wire cables.


Low Lying Cloud, 2016 by Urs Fischer. © Urs Fischer. Courtesy of the Artist and Gagosian. Photography by Mats Nordman.

Further experimenting with form, Davide Balula’s Mimed Sculpture (2016) eschews material altogether. In a series of weekly performances, a hired mime will ascend an otherwise vacant plinth and pantomime one well-known sculpture (past iterations have interpreted works by Louise Bourgeois and Henry Moore). “Working with mimes has been a first for me,” says Spalding.

“Close at Hand” will be on view at Gagosian San Francisco until February 24.

Main image: Heart, 2016 by Sterling Ruby © Sterling Ruby. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer.