The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

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Important Update

Cecile Abish

Cecile Abish was an urban planner until 1965, when she decided to be an artist. Boxed Monuments #3 was commissioned by Multiples, Inc. An edition of 500, it was constructed out of three-ply white Strathmore board and cardboard with two offset lithographs on graph paper affixed to its container. A one-inch scaled model of an idea for a monumental public artwork that could be sized up to 100 feet, its accordion shape relates to two temporal works that Abish created on-site for Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists. Exhibited on the grounds was a seventy-five-foot-long sculpture made from brown paper cut to travel with the wind and that slowly deteriorated over the course of the show. Fields from 1970,
an indoor floor sculpture, was built with vinyl, galvanized wire cloth, and urethane foam, its continuous folds implying that it could contract and expand.

In the 1970s, Abish was best known for her floor pieces and earthworks, including Field Quartering, 1972; 4 Into 3, 1973; and Shifting Concern, 1975. All were temporary and no longer exist. Re-created for this exhibition and sited in the Museum’s Sculpture Garden, 4 Into 3 made its debut on the grounds of Ramapo College in the spring of 1973. A geometric excavation, it comprises four five-foot square cuts made at eight inches deep. The excavated dirt forms three piles, each twenty-four inches high and positioned next to its excision. The work’s spatial arrangement stems from Abish’s persistent concern to make artworks that appear to expand infinitely in space. Over time, the installation surrenders to entropy, returning to the earth.

Related Exhibitions

April 18, 1971, to June 13, 1971 | Old Hundred

Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists

June 6, 2022 to January 8, 2023 | Lobby, Leir Gallery, Screening Room, Ramp, Project Space, Balcony, South Gallery, Sound Gallery, Opatrny Gallery

52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone

Top image: Cecile Abish, 4 Into 3, 1973/2022. Courtesy of the artist Photo: Jason Mandella.