The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago presents S, M, L, XL, an exhibition that highlights the trend among contemporary artists to make sculpture more accessible within a museum, gallery, or home. Starting during the 1960s and continuing to the present day, contemporary artists are self-consciously creating works that interact with audiences. The exhibition features four works, each increasingly ambitious in scale—small, medium, large, extra-large—that offer visitors a slightly different experience of sculpture and space to, ‘try on for size.’ This exhibition is organized by Michael Darling, Chief Curator at the MCA.
The first sculpture is the unassuming Portal (1964) by Robert Morris, which presents one of the most basic architectural forms—a post-and-lintel doorway—and visitors can walk through its unusually narrow space. A second Morris work, Passageway (1961), similarly invites visitors into a narrow, spiraling hallway that eventually becomes impassable. The third work, Blue by Franz West (2006), also utilizes a spiral form, but it rewards viewers entering its circular space with a seat. Completing the group is an enormous sculpture by Kris Martin that expands to fill whatever space in which it is placed. Made of a decommissioned hot air balloon and a powerful electric fan, T.Y.F.F.S.H. (2011) pushes its organic form against the boundaries of the museum walls.
S, M, L, XL reflects the development of an artistic attitude across five decades: the acknowledgment of the physical presence of the viewer as a way to complete the artwork or activate it. The exhibition’s title alludes not only to a common system of labeling clothes, but also to a 1995 book by architect Rem Koolhaas that explores scale in a variety of guises, from the intimate to the public, the social to the environmental.