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Indepth Arts News:

"Changing Perceptions: The Panza Collection"
2000-11-18 until 2001-03-01
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
Bilbao, , ES Spain

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is pleased to present Changing Perceptions: The Panza Collection at the Guggenheim Museum. This unprecedented exhibition includes works from one of the most preeminent collections of art of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, including some works that have not been on public view in over a decade. The scope of the exhibition requires a staggered installation, with the first and third floors opening on October 10, and the remaining galleries opening on November 18. Filling the entire museum with over a hundred works by twenty-three artists from the collection, Changing Perceptions shares with an international audience the Panzas prescient vision as collectors and the innovative work of a generation of artists who changed the direction of Modern art.

Dr. and Mrs. Giuseppe Panza di Biumo began acquiring art in 1956; today, together with private holdings, the Panza collection includes over 2,500 works. Between 1966 and 1975 the Panzas amassed one of the most ambitious collections of Minimal, Conceptual, Postminimal, and environmental art. This landmark exhibition is the fruitful result of an ongoing relationship between the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Panzas that began a decade ago. In 1991 and 1992, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was fortunate to acquire through purchase and gift over 350 works from this unparalleled collection, and the Panzas have also placed an additional 335 works on extended loan to the museum.

The collection is both a mirror of the Panzas and the time in which they live. Through art, they have found a means of expressing simple truths about culture and existence. A former student of philosophy, Dr. Panza considers the work he collects to be part of a larger theoretical and spiritual inquiry, an integral aspect of a personal search for meaning. Abstract painting and sculpture characterized by essential, geometric forms and a monochromatic palette have been of particular interest to the Panzas. The first works to capture their attention were by the Spanish painter Antoni Tąpies and French artist Jean Fautrier. These paintings reflect Europes postwar struggles with the weight of history, as well as the uncertainties of the future. In 1957 Panza discovered the work of the American painter Franz Kline in a magazine article; he immediately responded to the raw energy he sensed in these canvases. For the next several years, he focused on the work of American Abstract Expressionists and Pop artists who represented for him optimism and experimentation. It was 1966 when he first became interested in Minimalist Art, having seen a reproduction of a piece by Robert Morris, whose straightforward sculptures made of ordinary materials appealed to Panzas contemporary spirit and his interest in reduced, simple forms.

The collection is emblematic of a provocative and groundbreaking era in the history of art. The artists whose work is on view are among the most influential of our time: Carl Andre, Larry Bell, Hanne Darboven, Jan Dibbets, Dan Flavin, Hamish Fulton, Jene Highstein, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Brice Marden, Robert Mangold, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Richard Nonas, Robert Ryman, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, James Turrell, Lawrence Weiner, and Doug Wheeler. Eschewing conventional distinctions between painting and sculpture, art and idea, object and environment, this generation of artists has redefined our expectations and continues to challenge our perceptions of what art can be.

With few exceptions each gallery in the museum is dedicated to one of these artists. While in some instances a single work might inhabit a space, many of the galleries include several pieces, reflecting Panzas philosophy of collecting an artists work in depth. This is not an encyclopedic collection, but rather one that includes concentrated studies of a particular period in an artists oeuvre. By focusing on one artist at a time, the viewer is better able to understand the concerns that each addresses repeatedly in a series or through a variety of approaches. Likewise, the collection as a whole allows us to understand the shared motivations of these artists and witness the ways in which each grappled with similar issues through different media or materials.

Donald Judd
(Untitled, 1973)
Brass and blue Plexiglas
83.82 x 172.7 x 121.9 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Panza Collection, 1991
Photo by Giorgio Colombo, Milan

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