First Sculpture: Handaxe to Figure Stone
January 27, 2018 – April 29, 2018
Groundbreaking exhibition presents ancient tools and gathered objects as evidence of the earliest forms of artistic intention
First Sculpture: Handaxe to Figure Stone, an exhibition exploring prehistoric tools and collected objects as evidence of the beginnings of artistic intention and craft, is the first museum exhibition to present ancient handaxes as works of art. Traditionally understood as the longest-used tool in human history, the handaxe is equally fascinating for its non-utilitarian, aesthetic qualities. While handaxes are not rare—thousands have been discovered throughout the world—First Sculpture will present a refined and exemplary collection of these objects, which date from 2.5 million to 50,000 years old, as evidence of the earliest forms of artistic intention. The exhibition highlights the aesthetic qualities of each stone and provides crucial historical and scientific information to give the viewer a deeper understanding of human history, as well as an enriched appreciation for humankind’s early ability to sculpt beautiful objects. Whether carved from visually interesting stones using stone flaking techniques, called knapping, or rendered at unusual sizes that would inhibit use of the object as a tool, a case can be made for the handaxe as the first sculpture our prehistoric ancestors conceived. The exhibition also explores figure stones—naturally occurring stones that carry shapes and patterns that resemble human or animal forms, especially faces, and which were gathered by prehistoric people. The stones, which sometimes show evidence of modification, indicate an inclination to recognize figuration within nature much earlier than has been generally accepted. The exhibition is the product of a unique curatorial collaboration between Los Angeles-based artist Tony Berlant and anthropologist Dr. Thomas Wynn, Distinguished Professor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
Artist Unknown, Handaxe knapped around a fossil shell, Ca. 500,000-300,000, FlintWest Tofts, Norfolk, England, Approx. 5 ¼ x 3 in. (13.3 x 7.6 cm) Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge
A Tradition of Revolution
May 12 – August 19, 2018
Permanent collection exhibition explores themes of revolution and unrest as manifest in sculpture
The Nasher Collection represents a compendium of revolutionary ideas: Art of the last 150 years can largely be seen as a continuous re-evaluation of norms and accepted practices, an extended period of cultural innovation with each generation of artists pushing against or blazing new trails from the new ground established by the preceding generation. A brief selection includes Medardo Rosso’s radical experiments with the casting process to express the sweet ephemerality of experience; the seismic shift caused by Pablo Picasso’s development of the visual language of Cubism; Naum Gabo’s use of newly developed, space-age materials expressing the technological ethos of the age and effectively dematerializing sculpture; as well as the ever finer distillation of form to its essentials beginning with Brancusi and running through Minimalism to the present day. Artists working today continue to pursue many of these developments, adding their unique, contemporary perspectives and broadening the potential meanings of the forms. A Tradition of Revolution presents a cross-section of the Nasher Collection and the sculptural innovations of the last 150 years within the context of concurrent philosophical, scientific, and societal shifts. Ranging from the beginnings of Modernism in the work of Rodin, Gauguin, and others to radical experiments of the present day, the exhibition will include works never before seen at the Nasher, including several recent acquisitions.
Sol LeWitt Modular Cube/Base, 1968, Painted steel, 20 1/8 x 58 ½ x 58 ½in. (51.1 x 148.6 x 148.6 cm) Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas © 2018 Estate of Sol LeWitt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Photo: David Wharton
Sightings: Luke Fowler
May 12 – August 19, 2018
First-ever sound work to be presented at the Nasher, commissioned in partnership with Lismore Castle Arts, Ireland
Nasher Sculpture Center and Lismore Castle Arts, Ireland—two institutions with unique outdoor settings for art, one a contemporary garden in a dynamic urban setting and the other a lush garden at an ancient castle in a bucolic rural setting—have jointly commissioned Luke Fowler to create a new sound sculpture for both locations. For this commission, Fowler draws on practices of focused listening and architectural acoustics to create a multi-channel sound installation. Using everyday objects and acoustic environments unique to each site, Fowler will create compositions that subtly examine the material history of the two sites and their acoustic qualities. The work premiered at Lismore in August, presented in one of the medieval defensive towers surrounding the garden. Fowler will next travel to Dallas to take recordings of objects at the site, use the recordings to create a new sonic composition, and install the new sound composition in a resonant part of the Nasher garden. The exhibition is part of the Nasher Sculpture Center’s Sightings series of smaller-scale exhibitions and installations that highlight new work of emerging or established artists.
Luke Fowler, Gone Reflections, August 19 –October 15, 2017, Installation view at Lismore CastleArts, Lismore, Ireland