ALBANY — The University Art Museum presents Sara Magenheimer: Dailies, a commissioned solo exhibition of videos, vinyl texts and sculptures by artist, filmmaker and poet Sara Magenheimer. Alongside our Study Gallery Collections, UAM features Chryssa’s Gates to Times Square silkscreen series, which re-imagines the letterforms and characters of neon signs.
Sara Magenheimer: Daily
“This period of social upheaval has reinvigorated language as it occurs publicly, in protest posters and placards, tweets, captions, chyrons and political speeches,” writes artist, poet and filmmaker Sara Magenheimer. Magenheimer sublimates his own poetic language in the work of his commissioned solo exhibition Dailies. Turbulent distortions of vinyl texts that traverse the walls of the museum, still and moving texts in his video works, wire sculptures and found objects on an intimate scale embody the major themes of the exhibition: rest, absence, movement, immobility. Always sensitive to architecture and the body, Magenheimer has created a contemplative environment that invites viewers to move with and through language and subtly reflect on power, politics and poetics.
The words that inhabit the museum on both vinyl and video often draw from Magenheimer’s Beige Pursuit (2019, Wendy’s Subway), the artist’s book of poetry now in its second edition. Other video works include a projection of a 24-hour video clock that keeps time with the slow and often indistinguishable movement of 24 species of flowers that each bloom naturally at a specific time of day, and a projection housing earlier video pieces that trace the arc of Magenheimer’s thought over the past decade.
Time and the ephemeral are reproduced in wire sculptures and found objects imbued with Magenheimer’s memory, and black-and-white reverse portraits of actresses alongside their redacted CVs reflecting the “lifespan” of the actresses.
Throughout the exhibition, Magenheimer explores the conventions of the printed page while providing an expanded mode of reading that can occur within the context of an art space and the world at large.
Chryssa: The Gates of Times Square
Taking the language of the world, particularly the letterforms and typefaces of neon Manhattan in the 1960s and 1970s, Chryssa refigures them in her series of serigraphs Gates to Times Square (1978) displayed in the Collections Study Gallery from the University Art Museum. These 16 large-scale prints from the University of Albany Fine Art Collections represent a significant moment in Chryssa’s investigation of text as image.
Emerging from the Coenties Slip group in lower Manhattan in the 1950s and 1960s, alongside Agnes Martin and Ellsworth Kelly, Chryssa drew inspiration from her immediate urban surroundings, as well as the ancient Cycladic sculpture of her native Greece, and became a forerunner in the use of neon in fine art.
The Gates to Times Square prints show how Chryssa continued to reflect on the visual and textual ideas of her monumental, immersive neon, Plexiglas, and steel sculpture The Gates to Times Square (1964-66). Chryssa’s interest in written text began even earlier, notably in her fired clay tablets Cycladic Books (1957) and found new form in her 1970s-1980s study of Chinatown store signs produced together with the exposed prints.
Gates to Times Square features tangled patterns of saturated red and blue, interlocking lines in unexpected meditative formations, and stillness in its hard-edged grey-monochrome geometric forms. Recurring patterns and structures appear as Chryssa reuses a core set of serigraphs to explore the varying relationships between figure and ground, challenging our ways of reading the image.
Sara Magenheimer is an artist whose work encompasses film, video installation, writing and sculpture. She is based in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include The New Museum, NY; Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), or; The Kitchen, NY.
Chryssa (Chryssa Vardea-Mavromichali, born Greece, 1933-2013) is known for her sculpture and assemblage and was one of the first to use neon as an artistic medium from 1962.
She studied in Paris and San Francisco and moved to New York in 1954, and also established a studio in Athens in 1992.
His work is in many collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington.