Early Performance Films

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© Courtesy of the artist & Sprüth Magers Berlin
Early Performance Films

Oranienburger Straße 18
D-10178 Berlin
April 27th, 2012 - June 16th, 2012
Opening: April 27th, 2012 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

+49 (0)30 / 288 84 03 0
Tue-Sat 11-6 and by appointment


Sprüth Magers Berlin is delighted to present an exhibition of early performance films by Anthony McCall, to coincide with the artist’s major exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin (20 April –12 August 2012). The gallery will showcase three early works: Landscape for Fire (1972), Landscape for White Squares (1972) and Earth Work (1972).

Internationally recognized for groundbreaking work which occupies a space between sculpture, cinema and drawing, British-born McCall trained at Ravensbourne College of Art & Design in the mid 1960s. Shortly afterwards, in the early 1970s, he began working with performance and film, initially through a series of open-air performances which were significant for their minimal use of elements such as fire. McCall first took up filmmaking in order to record such performance works, which, in turn, led to an increasing interest in the medium of film itself, and the idea of making films that existed only in the present tense at the very moment of projection.

The three films featured in the exhibition, Landscape for Fire, Landscape for White Squares and Earth Work, originally shot in 16mm, document a series of live, outdoor, sculptural performances. All three performances were made in collaboration with Exit, a British group of musicians and artists. The earliest film, Landscape for Fire, records a performance in which a group of participants ignited containers of petrol laid out in a grid pattern across the field. Their actions were meticulously organized according to ‘scores’, drawn up by the artist beforehand, also on display here in the exhibition. Landscape for White Squares features individuals emerging out of a dense fog, carrying large, square, white sheets. Earth Work, a solo performance by McCall, is set in the grounds of Dial House, a farmhouse in North Weald, near London, where the founding members of Exit lived communally. The outdoor performance culminates in the burying of a box of earth.

The show will also feature Five Minute Drawing, a drawing resulting from a performance first realised in 1974 and performed by the artist in the gallery in 2011. The drawing takes place in actual time as the viewer observes the act of creation. Using a string previously blackened with graphite, the spectator watches the artist trace an arc onto sheets of white paper mounted in ascending order on the wall. A film of the drawing performed in New York in 2008 will be on view.

The exhibition at Sprüth Magers Berlin will run concurrently with Anthony McCall’s solo show, Five Minutes of Pure Sculpture at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. For the artist‘s first major museum show in Germany, his horizontal solid light works will be exhibited together for the first time with his more recent vertical works. Sprüth Magers Berlin will show the working drawings for Leaving, Meeting you halfway and Breath, on display at the Hamburger Bahnhof.

Anthony McCall has been awarded a large sculptural commission for 2012 by the Arts Council and the Cultural Olympiad, to realise his Column in North-West England: a sinuous column of cloud that rises from the surface of the water into the sky.

Anthony McCall lives and works in New York. Solo exhibitions include Centre Pompidou, Paris (2004), Institut d’Art Contemporain, Villeurbanne, France (2006), Musée de Rochechouart, France (2007), Serpentine Gallery, London (2007-8), Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2009), Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2009) and Ambika P3, London. Group exhibitions include ‘Into the Light: the Projected Image in American Art 1964-77’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2001-2), ‘The Expanded Screen: Actions and Installations of the Sixties and Seventies’ at Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna (2003-4), ‘The Expanded Eye’ at the Kunsthaus Zürich (2006), ‘Beyond Cinema: the Art of Projection’ at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2006-7), ‘The Cinema Effect: Illusion, Reality and the Projected Image’ at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC (2008), ‘On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century’ at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
(2010-11) and ‘Off the Wall’ at Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto (2011).