Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tauba Auerbach Brings Marble to the Whitney's Future Home

Tauba Auerbach, Quarry, 2010. On view at 820 Washington Street, New York, as part of Whitney on Site." Photos: 16 Miles

For an installation at the site of the Whitney’s future downtown branch, Tauba Auerbach has wrapped trailers and storage sheds near the High Line with high-resolution photographs of marble, transforming those temporary structures into huge blocks of the precious material. It is another strong piece to set alongside the uniformly sumptuous, meticulously crafted works that have filled her oeuvre. (It also doubles as a low-budget riff on Martin Creed’s luxurious and ostentatious marble floor at Gavin Brown’s enterprise, which will soon be installed as a staircase in Edinburgh, Scotland.)

The shift from shed to block is not seamless: the ripples of the metal storage sheds are visible, and air-conditioners jut out from the trailers. Auerbach is not aiming for a perfect transformation. Her most fascinating work has to do with the gap between sight and knowledge, things as they appear and things as they actually are. By changing the spacing of dots in her Op art works she gives the appearance that they have been damaged. In her “Greater New York” pieces she turns canvas into other textiles, painting minute folds and creases.

Auerbach knows that close inspection will always reveal the artifice of her creations. While Op art aims to lead eyes into optical illusions, her art mimics that optical play and then alters it just slightly. The trick breaks down. That is a remarkable feat: finding new material in Op art, a movement that has long been thought of as an artistic dead end, and it has earned her spots in the 2010 Whitney Biennial, the New Museum triennial, and MoMA P.S.1’s "Greater New York."

Unsurprisingly, she has also been anointed as a possible art-market superstar. “I feel like it’s a LeBron James announcement,” art adviser Lisa Schiff told Bloomberg earlier this month, speculating about the lucky dealer will represent Auerbach in New York, now that her former gallerist, Jeffrey Deitch, has left town. Her Whitney commission, which closes on Sunday, will do nothing to dull that excitement.


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