Indepth Arts News: |
2001-10-18 until 2002-01-13
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Spanish sculptor Juan Muñoz (1953--2001), whose sudden death in August shocked the art world, is here honored with his first full retrospective in the United States. Included are nearly 60 sculptures, multi-figure installations, drawings and paintings spanning Muñoz’s career from the mid-1980s to the present.
Munoz, who studied in Madrid, London, and New York before his first gallery exhibitions in the mid-1980s, is part of a generation of mid-career international artists---Stephan Balkenhol, Robert Gober, Thomas Schütte, and Kiki Smith among them---who reinvigorated figurative sculpture over the last decade. Munoz’s presentations of slightly smaller than life-size figures often appear staged in architectural settings, creating a heightened awareness of environment and narrative possibility. His work also uses the absence of figures to achieve this effect. A sense of mystery and intrigue in Muñoz’s work has elicited comparisons outside the visual arts to the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, the music of Alfred Schnittke, and the architecture of Francesco Borromini, among others.
Munoz has had major exhibitions at museums and in outdoor installations throughout Europe. Launching a national tour from the Hirshhorn, the current exhibition includes works infrequently seen on this continent---images of empty domestic interiors, banister sculptures, and a street-like passage lined by smaller-than-life iron balconies and hotel signs---as well as the bronze and pale cast-resin figures for which the artist is best known.