Robert Grosvenor
June 22–August 6, 2017

188 E 2nd Street
New York, NY 10009

Karma is pleased to announce an exhibition of a new sculpture by Robert Grosvenor.

Three objects sit in the gallery. Things that don’t appear to be of this time or even from this realm—like they fell from the sky, or were dug up fossils—inasmuch as they appear as superlative objects at first sight. Three vessels. The first, a bright yellow machine with it’s doors welded shut. No door handles. All of the seams are filled, it’s lines are smoothed and it’s corners pointed. Inside of it are four seats but no way to access them. It’s headlights and taillights are removed and painted over, leaving it impaired. It appears like it’s freshly emerged from it’s mold, after a dusty, yellow unnatural substance was poured in. A foggy piece of plexiglas—foreign to it’s surroundings—sit’s like a lid on the top.

On the other end is a mottled-brown-gray, rusted machine. Windowless, or rather without glass. It’s front is smoothed out and similarly it’s lights are missing—and whether they even existed to begin with continues to question it’s functionality. A fin on it’s back indicates speed and aerodynamics—but it’s hard to imagine how it can propel or steer. Its skin, pierced with cuts and slits, creates an appearance of a living and breathing thing.

In the center sits a small green vehicle, with three wheels, seemingly the most functional of the lot but no less illogical or esoteric than it’s partners. It has all—or most—of the ingredients to articulate that it was or could be driven—seats, steering wheel, gas pedal, gearshift, even keys and a license plate—but it’s function, while marginally present is almost always inaccessible.

“We must not forget that an object is the best messenger of a world above that of nature: one can easily see in an object at once a perfection and an absence of origin, a closure and brilliance, a transformation of life into matter.”
(Roland Barthes)

Continuing to investigate positions between stillness and movement, Grosvenor’s sculptures seem to be things that are at a mid-way point, neither functionless or functional, both recognizable and absurd—always coming so close to both ends at the same time and resisting interpretation and challenging the limits of industrial fabrication. Smoothness has for some time been an attribute associated with perfection because it’s opposite reveals a typically human operation of assembling. From afar, Untitled is a group of smooth, slick machines built at the height of technological advancements of their period and place, however from a shorter distance and slower time, perspective shifts and an artists labor is revealed. Through formal conventions of sculpture making, such as the manipulation of material and form, Grosvenor often establishes relationships between strangers. Unsuspecting objects, unfamiliar textures, and unconventional colors are often the divergent components with which he constructs a scene. The three objects, sitting on wheels—a sort of built in pedestal—seem on the verge of turning into something else, as much as they seem like they could roll away.

Robert Grosvenor (b. 1937) was born in New York City and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in France and the Universitá di Perugia in Italy. Important one-person exhibitions of Grosvenor’s work have been presented at Fundação de Serralves, Porto (2005), Kunsthalle Bern (1992) and P.S.1, New York (1984). Selected group exhibitions include the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum, New York (1973 and 2010), Primary Structures at the Jewish Museum, New York (1966), American Sculpture for the 60’s, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (1967), Sonsbeek 71, Sonsbeek Park, Arnhem, The Netherlands (1971). Grosvenor’s work is included in the collections of the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Storm King Art Center, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and Museum Boymans-van Beuningen Rotterdam, The Netherlands.