Noteworthy Acquisitions: Julian Hoeber and Alex Israel

Nasher Sculpture Center
Jan 24, 2017 7:04PM

The Nasher Sculpture Center recently received several important gifts by artists Julian Hoeber and Alex Israel.  The work of these California-based artists represent notable ways in which a new generation of artists working today expand upon the modernist foundations of the Nasher Collection. 

The work of Julian Hoeber encompasses painting, drawing, sculpture, and installation, extending the constructivist spirit of Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner to the 21st century.  Like these predecessors, Hoeber derives complex sculptural forms from mathematical precepts and geometric models.  Negative Space of Double Wall presents an irregular rectangular prism sliced at various angles, creating a dynamic three-dimensional object that changes dramatically at each face.  The colorful nylon cords woven into the structure define subtle planes running through the form, recalling the stringed sculptures and welded-rod compositions of Gabo and Pevsner.  This form sits atop a low plinth, also designed by Hoeber.  The practice of making a sculpture to support another sculpture has roots in the work of Constantin Brancusi, but the beautifully milled oak trim and smooth, soft-pink lacquer of the base recall the domestic finishes associated with the sculpture of Richard Artschwager.  This generous gift was given by the Green Family Collection.

Julian Hoeber, American, born 1974. Negative Space of Double Wall, 2015. Sculpture: Maple, birch plywood, rigid polyfoam, polyester, epoxy, nylon cord and wax, approx. 48 x 27 x 25 in. (121.9 x 68.6 x 63.5 cm). Pedestal: Oak plywood, MDF, paint, lacquer and wax, 12 x 35 1/2 x 27 1/2 in. (30.5 x 90.2 x 69.9 cm). Nasher Sculpture Center, Gift of the Green Family Collection. © Julian Hoeber. Photo: courtesy of Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco

The four works by Alex Israel, generously donated by a private collection and the VIA Art Fund, will be familiar to visitors of the Nasher Sculpture Center.  Self-Portrait (Wetsuit), Cap, Glove, and Booties were initially unveiled to the public last year in the Nasher’s Sightings exhibition of Israel’s work.  Comprising painting, sculpture, video, and aspects of performance, Israel’s work recalls elements of Pop, Duchampian readymades, as well as Southern California Light and Space and Finish Fetish, art of the 1960s and 1970s.  The sculptures donated to the Nasher are related to the artist’s first feature length film SPF-18, which explores the genre of the teen surfing movie, using visual and narrative conventions common to the after-school special, a series of made-for-TV movies for adolescents.  The wetsuit and accessories are sculptural replicas of the real wetsuit made by the movie’s central character, but extend the artist’s investigation of the iconic pop culture of his native Los Angeles to better understand its persistent impact on contemporary life and art.  They also mark a new path in Israel’s innovative exploration of portraiture and the cult of personality, initiated in his YouTube interview project, As It LAys, and continued in his paintings of iconic L.A. scenes on canvases shaped in the silhouette of his profile.  The artist wore the wetsuit when the mold was made for casting the sculpture, making this self-portrait a hollow shell, a self-portrait notable for the absence of the figure portrayed.  Flocked in stucco and painted the vibrant colors of the California sunset, the wetsuit and accessories use the material vocabulary of 20th-century Southern California, yet are presented on stands reminiscent of the display of Greek and Roman antiquities, lending these commonplace objects both nobility and nostalgia.  These sculptures join another work by Alex Israel, Sky Backdrop, generously promised to the Nasher in 2015 by Christen and Derek Wilson. 

by Jed Morse, Chief Curator, Nasher Sculpture Center

Alex Israel, American, born 1982. Self Portrait (Wetsuit), 2015. Acrylic on aluminum, 79 1/2 x 28 x 22 in. (201.9 x 71.1 x 55.9 cm). Nasher Sculpture Center, Gift of private collection. © Alex Israel. Photo: Kevin Todora

Alex Israel, American, born 1982. Booties, 2015. Acrylic on aluminum, 9 1/8 x 10 3/8 x 4 1/8 in. (23.2 x 26.4 x 10.5 cm). Nasher Sculpture Center, Gift of VIA Art Fund. © Alex Israel. Photo: Kevin Todora

Alex Israel, American, born 1982. Cap, 2015. Acrylic on aluminum, 13 3/4 x 8 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (21.6 x 24.1 x 34.9 cm). Nasher Sculpture Center, Gift of VIA Art Fund. © Alex Israel. Photo: Kevin Todora

Alex Israel, American, born 1982. Glove, 2015. Acrylic on aluminum, 14 1/2 x 7 x 7 in. (17.8 x 17.8 x 36.8 cm). Nasher Sculpture Center, Gift of VIA Art Fund. © Alex Israel. Photo: Kevin Todora

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