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"The Magic of Light: Artists Focusing on Non-Traditional Media"
2002-02-01 until 2002-05-19
Hudson River Museum
Yonkers, NY, USA

We cannot touch or hold it, but we can see it, and with it, see our world. Light defines our physical, visual and mental experiences. It determines how we move and stirs our emotions. Opening on February 1 at the Hudson River Museum, The Magic of Light examines light art as physical sensation. Magic presents work by 14 artists who changed the nature of art by using light - rather than paint or stone - to create. Their artworks move away from the traditional art object and focus, instead, on the viewer’s perceptions.

The Magic of Light displays the work of both established and emerging American artists. James Turrell, part of the Light-and-Space movement of the 1960s and 1970s along with Robert Irwin, works with pure light, while his main goal is the viewer’s highest visual and physiological perception. Magic also shows how the vocabulary of these seminal artists is reexamined by the recent work of artists like Susan Chorpenning. Her work, Backtrack, presents a shifting reality, her changing images held in phosphorescence.

The entire museum is the framework for this exhibition. Five new installations by Stephen Antonakos, Pietro Costa, Kenny Greenberg, Erwin Redl and Robert Thurmer were created especially for The Magic of Light. They respond to the unusual spaces and varied architecture in and around the museum’s complex of galleries, courtyards and the historic Glenview Mansion. For example, the thousands of lights in Erwin Redl’s Matrix I cover the 100-foot south wall of the Museum’s main gallery. Exhibiting artists are Stephen Antonakos, Dan Flavin, Susan Chorpenning, Pietro Costa, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Kenny Greenberg, Robert Irwin, Bill Jones and Ben Neill Sheila Moss, Liz Phillips, James Turrell, Erwin Redl, Keith Sonnier and Robert Thurmer.

The Magic of Light will be accompanied by a fully illustrated color catalog with essays by noted art critic Carter Ratcliff and physicist Arthur Zajonc, published by The Hudson River Museum.

The Magic of Light was organized by the Hudson River Museum and is the third in the Museum’s series of contemporary art exhibitions to explore nontraditional media (Drip, Blow, Burn, '99 and Hanging by a Thread, '97-'98). The Magic of Light is made possible, in part, by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts and the David Bermant Foundation: Color, Light and Motion.

Exhibiting Artists - The Magic of Light

Stephen Antonakos, a pioneer in neon art, is represented by Welcome, 1999, Ruby Neon Incomplete Circles on a Light Blue Wall, 1977, and Untitled, 2002.

Dan Flavin, is represented by untitled (in honor of Leo at the 30th anniversary of his gallery), 1987. He worked with fluorescent tubes to illuminate existing architecture and suggest new space from old. His untitled (for Betty and Richard Koshalek, a friendly reminder), 1979, is a permanent installation at the museum and the inspiration for this exhibition.

Susan Chorpenning’s Backtrack, 1995, a work from her “dark” series.

Pietro Costa has created grace, 2002, a vertical series of concentric red neon rings radiating intense light for this exhibition.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Untitled (America) 1994-95 is one of a series of installations he created which incorporates flexible strings of light bulbs, that adapt to any space in which they are installed.

Kenny Greenberg, whose career spans neon, light and technology, introduces the viewer to all three fields in Ouija Light, 2002 - especially created for this exhibition - and invites them to manipulate colors and patterns.

Robert Irwin, Unititled (disc), 1965-1967, used circular aluminum or mesh discs flooded with light to expand perceptions he found circumscribed by rectangles in conventional painting. Bill Jones and Ben Neill blend sight and sound with Pulse 48, 1999. Its colorful plastic children’s Frisbees and snow sleds, hidden together with light elements inside each “pod,” react to the tempo and pitch of the music.

Sheila Moss, in Night Fishers, 2000, beckons the viewer to a compelling experience of altered perception with strings of Q-tips, flashing light and phosphorescent paint.

Liz Phillip’s in Echo Evolution, 1999, builds 3-D human-scale responsive sound and light structures, which viewers activate and manipulate by their presence in the structure’s space.

Erwin Redl brings his background in computer art, musical composition and electronic music to Matrix I, 2000-2002, especially created for this exhibition. The LED (light-emitting diode), a source emanating from a semiconductor crystal, is his medium.

Keith Sonnier in Palm Blatt, 2000, and Saule PleureurII, 2000, finds multiple ways for neon light to suggest space in the environment and energy in the human figure.

Robert Thurmer, Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spake Zarathustra), 2002, creates a spiritual environment with fluorescent light in the Museum’s Glenview Tower.

James Turrell is represented by Afrum #6 (Blue),1967, whose work is so palpable viewers often try to touch the light in this installation.

Erwin Redl
Matrix I, 2000-2002
LED lights, copper wire and weights,
11' x 100'
Collection of the artist

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