The Studio Museum in Harlem presents Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989, the first-ever museum survey of early works by conceptual artist and CalArts faculty Charles Gaines. Opening on July 17 and running through Oct. 26, the exhibition showcases Gaines' distinctive method of using logic, pattern and systems to produce images.
The 75 artworks on view in Gridwork 1974-1989 include the series "Regression," one of Gaines's first explorations of mathematical and numeric systems; "Walnut Tree Orchard" and "Faces," which use photography as a foundation for graphic deconstructions; and "Motion: Trisha Brown Dance," a collaboration with the world-renowned choreographer and dancer.
In a conversation with art critic Courtney J. Martin, Gaines discusses his preoccupation with systems to produce art:
I liked to think about ideas and language and indeterminacies and so forth. And I was always thinking about "why did I do that" in a world where you were not supposed to think about such things. But then I ran into these artists—I mean also going back to Sol [LeWitt]— for whom the very idea of art was on the level of intellectual or critical propositions and said, “Well, you know, there are people in the world who are driven by thinking about art as an ideational space.” Generally, even though they were mostly pragmatists and empiricists, they were so very careful about the excesses of language with respect to artistic production. That’s where I was different. I was precisely interested in the excesses of language. My use of systems is not as an empirical or documentary tool. I use systems in order to provoke the issues around representation.
A 160-page, full-color, hardcover catalogue accompanies the show, featuring newly commissioned essays and expository texts on the artist’s production process.
Above is a gallery of selected works from the exhibit.
Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989
July 17 through Oct. 26
Studio Museum in Harlem
144 W. 125th St., New York City
Suggested donation: $7