Magazine article Artforum International

"La Carte D'apres Nature": MATTHEW MARKS GALLERY

Magazine article Artforum International

"La Carte D'apres Nature": MATTHEW MARKS GALLERY

Article excerpt

In his preface to the 1800 edition of Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth announces the necessity for a new kind of poetry. He resolves to '"choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them, throughout, as far as was possible in a selection of language really used by men, and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should he presented to the mind in an unusual aspect," More than two centuries later, his then-revolutionary litetary objective resonates throughout "La Carle d'apres nature," an expansive group exhibition crated by Thomas Demand. The artist derives the title from an art journal published sporadically by Rene Magritte between 1951 and 1965 that usually consisted of a mere postcard, which he addressed to friends and fellow artists. On one of the postcards, Magritte wrote Quel sens donnezvous au mot poise? (What meaning do you give to the word poetry?) I think a lot of people--smart, cultivated artistic types no less than philistines--regard poetry as pretty retardataire these days; the beauty of Demand's show is that he obviously doesn't. The coloring of imagination rendering ordinary things astonishing suffuses the whole of it.

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Demand's exhibition--a reconfigured version of one by the same title at the Nouveau Musee National dc Monaco in 2010--is a brilliant work of rime travel, representing Magritte's own time, with the painter's L'Univers demasque (The Universe Unmasked), 1932, for example, and a 1932 photograph of models attired in Sonia Delaunay's dresses, striking poses before the cubistic trees; looking hack to photography by August Kotzsch (ea. I860s-70s) and a dazzlingly mysterious 1911 autochromc by Leon Gimpel; and reaching forward, through divagating paths, to Sigmar Poike, Ger van Elk, and especially the Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri. "Contemporary art" is amply represented, with works by, among others, Rodney Graham, Tacita Dean, Martin Boyce (who designed the exhibition's brilliantly convoluted layout), Henrik Hakansson, Saadane Afif--and Fridge, 2011, commissioned by Demand from Kudjoe Affutu, a professional Ghanaian coffin maker (yes, it's a freestanding functional coffin in the form of a refrigerator). If this list of names seems random, well, at first it is. This show requires a patient, inquisitive viewer, one willing to live for a while in doubt and confusion while moving hesitantly and breathlessly through its complex installation, coming upon one gorgeous, weird, difficult, sometimes just plain opaque artwork after another; there's no gestalt look that you simply "get. …

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