Barry Le Va: Part One. Drawings 1967-2017
November 14, 2019 – February 1, 2020
David Nolan Gallery is pleased to present Barry Le Va: Part One. Drawings 1967-2017, a survey of works on paper spanning 50 years, on view through February 1, 2020. This is Le Va’s thirteenth solo exhibition at the gallery. Part Two: Sculpture will open in the spring of 2020.
Barry Le Va (b. 1941, Long Beach, California) is regarded as one of the leading figures of Postminimalism and Process Art, and is recognized alongside peers Bruce Nauman, Dorothea Rockburne, Richard Serra, and Robert Smithson. Since the beginning of Le Va’s career in the 1960s he has consistently defied the traditional concept of sculpture as a contained stagnant form, instead championing chance and impermanence, and continuously responding to the environment around him. In Part One, we will present five decades of ceaseless innovation highlighting drawing as an equal half of Le Va’s artistic practice.
Le Va’s drawings encapsulate the rigor of his continuous investigation into spatial dynamics challenging relationships between objects and their viewers. In many instances, Le Va’s drawings exist solely as conceptual journeys, never to be realized in the third dimension. As stated by the prominent critic and curator, Robert Storr, “Le Va’s art is emphatically material and experiential, the realization of ideas rather than their mere illustration.”
From the onset of the 1960s to the early 1970s, Le Va’s works were primarily intimate in scale and composed of limited materials. In the mid-1970s there was a visible shift as the sculptures began to activate both floor and wall, and non-traditional materials such as blown flour, smashed glass and meat cleavers become signatures of Le Va’s practice. In the 1990’s the drawings increased in material complexity with the introduction of collage and spray paint, many grew monumental in scale, often competing with the installations. Since the 1990s Le Va has returned to a more personal drawing practice working primarily with ink and graphite on paper.
Exhibition designed by Stefano Basilico.
Coinciding with this exhibition, Dia will open a yearlong survey of Barry Le Va’s early sculptural work at Dia:Beacon. Carolina Nitsch, New York will also open Barry Le Va: Sculptured Activities, an exhibition of woodblock prints and sketches from the 1980s.
Le Va has shown extensively throughout the United States and Europe, and has been the subject of major survey exhibitions at the New Museum, New York, 1979; the Carnegie Mellon Art Gallery, Pittsburgh, 1988, (traveled to Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, 1989; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 1989; Neuberger Museum of Art, New York 1990); Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, 2005 (curated by Ingrid Schaffner); and the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Portugal, 2006.
His works can be found in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art; Denver Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; mumok, Vienna; The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; The Morgan Library & Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven. Le Va currently lives and works in New York City.
Carroll Dunham on Barry Le Va
Barry Le Va's art of the late 1960's so perfectly typified the advanced aesthetic strategies of that turbulent moment that one almost feels he would have to have been invented if he didn't already exist. His sculptures represented a heightened, take-no-prisoners distillation of ideas drifting in the air, which in relative isolation and with almost telepathic clairvoyance he synthesized in an extremely original way. In November 1968, the completely unknown twenty-seven-year-old California artist appeared on the cover of Artforum, with an image of a large stretch of wooden floor, scattered with apparently random strips and little scraps of gray felt. Inside the magazine were pictures of various installations with myriad fragments of cloth, ranging from large bolts to ribbons and tiny cuttings, dispersed across the floor in enormous and otherwise empty rooms. With their emphatically horizontal spatial development, lack of internal armatures, and embrace of empty space as a physical platform, these works were clearly connected to those of approximate peets like Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, and Bill Bollinger, and to European artists, particularly those associated with arte povera, such as Luciano Fabro and Mario Merz.