Gagosian is pleased to present Out of This World: Artists Explore Space, curated by Larry Gagosian for the 2018 Seattle Art Fair. The booth presentation gathers works involving artistic and scientific explorations of the cosmos, flight, and the unknown.
Human fascination with outer space is enduring, as evidenced by the worldwide media spectacle sparked by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s historic moon landing in 1969. Gagosian juxtaposes the materials and technologies of astronomical and aeronautical research—including early celestial maps, meteorites, and space telescopes—with the many artistic fantasies and interpretations that they have inspired.
An intricate late-eighteenth-century engraved map of the moon by the astronomer Jean-Dominique Cassini IV contrasts with eleven NASA photographs that capture the planting of the American flag on lunar soil, Aldrin’s footprint on the moon’s surface, and more. These reappear in a print from Robert Rauschenberg’s Stoned Moon series (1969), commissioned by NASA: of the thirty-four lithographs in the series, Sky Garden is the largest, and includes charts, maps, and photographs related to the moon landing. Andy Warhol’s Astronauts (1963), likely based on images released by the Kennedy Space Center, reflects the awe and fear of the American public during the space race.
Also on view is a seat prototype designed by Marc Newson for the Astrium spaceplane, which takes off like an airplane before beginning its vertical ascension into space, as well as a version of Calibration Target (2002), Damien Hirst’s miniature Spot painting that was sent to Mars as part of the Beagle 2 mission in 2003. Reversing the gaze from outer space back to Earth, Andreas Gursky’s Ocean photographs (2010) use high-definition satellite images to construct the artist’s own interpretations of the planet’s surface.
Chris Burden’s Scale Model of the Solar System (1983) spans the relative distance between the Gagosian booth at the fair—where a yellow sphere represents the sun—and the Seattle Art Museum, almost one mile away. Burden’s model indicates the size of, and distance between, the bodies of the solar system, using the scale of 1 inch: 4.2 trillion inches. An original copy of Nicolaus Copernicus’s sixteenth-century volume De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, Libri V reveals the foundation of the heliocentric model of the planetary system; illustrated with 148 woodcuts, it is one of the largest extant copies of this key scientific text.
Seized by the thrill and mystery of the unknown, artists often represent the cosmos through abstract or surreal methods. Ellen Gallagher’s Abu Simbel (2005) shows a UFO wreathed in bright blue fur, shooting red orbs at the famous Egyptian monuments. Ed Ruscha plots the relation between microcosm and macrocosm with words of increasing scale (from “dot” to “U.S.A.” to “galaxy”), echoing the calibration of Burden’s sculpture on a flat plane. Mike Kelley’s Gospel Rocket (2005) comprises an illuminated movie sign, projected videos of a gospel choir, and a huge black rocket dressed in an elongated version of the choir’s silky yellow vestments, while in Nam June Paik’s Rabbits Inhabit the Moon, Light/Dark (1996), two wooden rabbits stare blankly at the moon’s image on illuminated television monitors.
Featured artists include Richard Avedon, Andisheh Avini, Chris Burden, Alexander Calder, Jean-Dominique Cassini IV, Vija Celmins, Nicolaus Copernicus, Ellen Gallagher, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Johannes Honter, Neil Jenney, Mike Kelley, Yves Klein, Vera Lutter, Brice Marden, Marc Newson, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, Thomas Ruff, Ed Ruscha, Tom Sachs, John Senex, Taryn Simon, Joel Sternfeld, Yves Tanguy, Mark Tansey, Gaston Tissandier, and Andy Warhol, among others. Several of the works on view are loaned to the exhibition.
If you wish to receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact us at [email protected].