The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

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January 24, 1993, to May 2, 1993 |

Impermanence: Andy Goldsworthy & Merrill Wagner

The art of Andy Goldsworthy and Merrill Wagner is distinguished by their exploration of the temporal dimension in creation and execution. Both artists treat time as an element whose scale and proportion are considered as deeply as traditional elements such as material, color or texture.

What happens to the traditional materials of art production over time-their erosion and decay- is incorporated by Merrill Wagner in works that gracefully and quietly poeticize the present as they recede into the future. Wagner uses photographic records of sculptural events as well as presenting pieces made of found slate, paper and steel. The obsolescence inherent in all objects is not denied but directly engaged: the traces of erosion are perhaps the “final” version of her art works. Wagner embraces and records this obsolescence, extending the creative process beyond her immediate control.

Andy Goldsworthy’s work is generally more transient than Wagner’s dealing with natural materials which he arranges, composes or even “performs” with. Some of his work is presented in photographic form as they are transient events caught on film. Some pieces are sculptures, some are “drawings” (melted snowballs or ice on paper), some are long lasting earthworks utilizing sand, leaves, twigs, pebbles, streams, sea water and other objects from nature.

Wagner embraces the process of aging and deterioration inherent in the life of any artwork. Goldsworthy has a more fragile and intricate relationship to time. While, by his own account, “process and decay are implicit” in his work. His actual creative process is tied to the fundamental markers of time- the seasons and immediate changes in temperature and weather conditions during the course of a single hour.

Curated by Richard Klein