Dominique Lévy is pleased to announce her gallery’s new home in New York City and the inaugural exhibition Audible Presence: Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Cy Twombly, which will open to the public on September 18, 2013. Installed in the gallery’s historic landmark building at 909 Madison Avenue at 73rd Street, Audible Presence explores the relationship between the time-based procedures employed by three of the most influential artists of the 20th century and the auditory experiences of music, sound, and silence.
Curated by Dominique Lévy and Associate Director Jennifer G. Buonocore, and organized with support from the Yves Klein Archives, Paris, and the Fondazione Lucio Fontana, Milan, Audible Presence will present more than 30 paintings and sculptures. Among these are rare masterpieces loaned by The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Menil Collection, Houston; and Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York. The exhibition will remain on view through November 16th.
Spanning a thirty year period, Audible Presence reveals moments of conceptual and formal resonance between carefully selected works of art by Fontana, Klein, and Twombly. While the monochromatic surfaces on view – cut, pressed, burned, inscribed, or otherwise violated – reflect distinct dynamic, sensual, and romantic approaches to abstraction, they emerged from a shared Mediterranean climate and engagement with an international community of influential dealers and critics such as Iris Clert and Pierre Restany. Among the evocative, intimate, and experiential works of art on view will be an early environmental installation – Soffitto (1949) – conceived by Fontana for a private residence in Milan and never before exhibited in the United States; the monumental Untitled Sponge Relief (RE 23) (1957) by Klein, the only all- white sponge painting the artist ever created; a vibrant International Klein Blue (IKB) monochrome painting, Untitled (IKB 100) (1956), acquired by Fontana from Klein’s 1957 exhibition at Galerie Apollinaire, Milan, on loan to this exhibition from the Fondazione Lucio Fontana; Fontana’s non-objective portrait of a Venetian blue sky, Concetto Spaziale, Il Cielo di Venezia (1961); and Twombly’s attempt to capture the experience of warm Italian light, a cream canvas with crimson and gold markings called Sunset (1957), created the year the artist permanently relocated to Rome.
According to Yves Klein, the origins of his aesthetic and personal development coincided with an early idea for a symphony consisting of a single prolonged tone – a concept originally conceived with two friends on a beach in Nice. “During this period of concentration,” Klein wrote, “I created, around 1947-1948, a monotone symphony whose theme expresses what I wished my life to be.” What began as a spontaneous experiment for three voices, evolved into Monotone-Silence Symphony – a challenging work formally scored for a small orchestra and chorus in 1960. The Monotone-Silence Symphony was Dominique Lévy’s key source of inspiration for Audible Presence.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Dominique Lévy will present New York City's first public performance of Monotone-Silence Symphony at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church on September 18th. This powerful perceptual encounter will unfold over 40 minutes. Seventy musicians and singers will hold a single continuous tone for a 20-minute period. The performers then will remain frozen and motionless in observance of a 20-minute period of absolute silence. Of that soundlessness Klein wrote, “This silence is so marvelous because it grants happenstance and even sometimes the possibility of true happiness, if only for only a moment, for a moment whose duration is immeasurable.”
Monotone-Silence Symphony was performed only once during the artist’s brief lifetime, on the night of March 9, 1960 as one part of the happening Anthropometries de l'époque bleue at the Galerie internationale d'art contemporain in Paris. For that event Klein conducted a small group of musicians as they played his symphony and directed three nude models – his “living brushes” – in the creation of Anthropometry paintings by covering their bodies with blue paint and pressing themselves against blank sheets of paper lining the walls and floor. Reflecting on his experience of sound in his symphony, Klein writes, “This continuous sound... emerged from space even while remaining in it, penetrated it anew, then returned to silence... deprived of its attack and of its conclusion.... It was silence – an audible presence!”
Monotone-Silence Symphony will be presented free to the public. Seating is limited and reservations for the performance on September 18th will be offered on a first- come, first-served basis.