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Tel Aviv Museum of Art

The 'Perpetual Becoming' of Yaacov Agam

The 'Perpetual Becoming' of Yaacov Agam

My aim is to show the visible as possibility in a state of perpetual becoming
— Yaacov Agam

This month marks the official opening of the much anticipated Agam Museum in Rishon LeZion, Israel. David Nofar's 3200 square meter spacious building dedicated to the work of Yaacov Agam is well worth the wait.

The Pillars of Clilla

The Pillars of Clilla

From the moment visitors step onto the grounds of the museum they are engulfed into the rainbow world of Agam. 'The Pillars of Clilla,' named for his late wife, includes 29 monumental columns (20 at the entrance and 9 inside the building) which make the distinction between indoors and outdoors inconspicuous. Meeting visitors in the courtyard, these columns transport them into the mind of Agam and lead them into the museum’s central space, which boasts his ‘panorAgam’ work, originally displayed on the bow at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 1981.

Agam is widely considered the father of kinetic art because of his early preoccupation with time and movement. Kinetic art is defined as art that relies on motion to create its desired effects. Agam’s work is concerned with the what he refers to as ‘the fourth dimension,’ which is the idea that time is visible within the artwork and the piece is not static. This element is broadly explored and thoroughly explained through the myriad of works in various mediums in the museum. 

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In fact, without the active role of visitors the kinetic elements of Agam’s works would not be possible. Viewers cannot remain passive if they are to truly experience Agam’s art as he intended. His work requires you to be active physically, cognitively, and emotionally. This concept is better experienced than explained as the ‘perpetual becoming’ of Agam’s oeuvre reveals itself to viewers within the museum.

Agam’s signature style is well known to the Israeli public who would recognize his major works in Tel Aviv: the ‘Water and Fire’ fountain at Tzina Dizengoff Square and the facade of the Dan Hotel on the Tel Aviv Promenade. Yet, his work resonates on an international scale with non-Jewish communities. However, it would be negligent to discuss Agam without acknowledging his connections to Judaism. Born in Rishon LeZion in 1928, in what was then mandate Palestine, to a Kabbalist Rabbi father, spirituality and Torah teachings permeated his youth and stay with him to this day. Judaism forbids figurative artworks and since Agam is restricted in this way he uses abstract figures in his work to express the feelings of life. 

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At 89 years old, Agam is embracing technology and is increasingly interested in applying his artistic principles to new medias. Through computers and applications he has created interactive works that activate the participants senses of touch, sight, and sound. This convergence of the senses breaths a new life into Agam’s work and keeps it relevant in the 21st century.

Abundant with Agam classics such as his signature ‘Agamographs,’ the museum provides a comprehensive look at his oeuvre that both longtime followers of his career and novice art fans will appreciate. As the director of the Agam Museum, Gilad Meltzer, explained, “In the spirit of the artist, a visit to the museum will encourage a multiplicity of views and points of view, emphasizing the universal language of art and the unique and groundbreaking qualities of his work.”

 

Agam Art Museum
1, Meishar St, Rishon LeTsiyon, Israel

The Chilling Polarities of Louise Bourgeois

The Chilling Polarities of Louise Bourgeois

“It is not an image I am seeking. It’s not an idea. It is an emotion you want to recreate, an emotion of wanting, of giving and of destroying” - Louise Bourgeois

What is the essential link between mother and child, between self and other, between independence and interdependence, between copulation and creation, between the literal and the figurative? These are just some of the questions posed in the inaugural show of French-American artist Louise Bourgeois's work in Israel, at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The exhibition “Twosome”, jointly curated by Jerry Gorovoy and Suzanne Landau, emphasizes the duality in Louise Bourgeois's work. Bourgeois struggled with bouts of depression throughout her life which is reflected in the pieces selected for the show. The exhibition contains themes of displacement, abandonment, and anxiety, sentiments that permeated her powerful, and at times, chilling oeuvre.  

Twosome, which features over 50 works, presents a highly personal connection between the artist and her work. The art of Bourgeois is autobiographical and cannot be separated from her lived experiences. She, herself, said “my sculpture is my body”. Louise Bourgeois's somatic fascination is a strong motif throughout the exhibition. The human body, and primarily the female form, is used as a catalyst with which to explore motherhood, abandonment, love, and fear.      

Louise Bourgeois with a fabric sculpture in progress in 2009. Photo: © Alex Van Gelder / Art: © The Easton Foundation

Louise Bourgeois with a fabric sculpture in progress in 2009.
Photo: © Alex Van Gelder / Art: © The Easton Foundation

Louise Bourgeois’s had an acute awareness of the relationship between the self and others. In her consideration of relationships the artist created dialogues between contradictory concepts, such as; the conscious and unconscious, mother and child, male and female. Filial relationships are considered in both small and large scale works. Intimate pieces such as Umbilical Cord (2003) and The Birth (2007) portray the intense vulnerability Bourgeois experienced throughout her life.  A display of 17 of these smaller works, in a variety of mediums, is expertly juxtaposed with a series of installations meant to serve as confessionals.  

The exhibition's namesake piece, Twosome (1991) is a unique work for Louise Bourgeois because of its scale and industrial aesthetic. Despite its hulking presence, Twosome maintains the alluring intimacy of her smaller works. This sculptural installation is a powerful culmination of Louise Bourgeois's exploration of the complex relationship between mother and child. While the work is up for interpretation it is near impossible not to feel a maternal bond existing between the the two tanks as one perpetually moves in and out of the other, with a metal chain serving as an umbilical cord to connect them and a red light pulsing from within the steel sculpture, giving it a sense of life.    

Louise Bourgeois SPIDER COUPLE, 2003 Steel 228.6 x 360.7 x 365.8 cm. Private Collection Photo: Christopher Burke, (c) The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, NY

Louise Bourgeois
SPIDER COUPLE, 2003
Steel
228.6 x 360.7 x 365.8 cm.
Private Collection
Photo: Christopher Burke, (c) The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, NY

While Twosome is predominantly concerned with Louise Bourgeois's relationship with her parents (Spider Couple, 2003) and then her own children, it does not neglect her reflections on romantic relationships. There is a morbid romanticism to her work that is best embodied by Couples (2003). This large sculpture fabricated in cast aluminum is perilously suspended from the gallery’s ceiling by a single string, leaving the warped lovers in a tragic free fall. The shiny exterior of Couple belies its darker purpose as a cathartic exploration of the artist’s lifelong fear of abandonment.     

Louise Bourgeois THE COUPLE, 2003 Aluminum, hanging piece 365.1 x 200 x 109.9 cm. Collection The Easton Foundation Photo: Christopher Burke, (c) The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, NY

Louise Bourgeois
THE COUPLE, 2003
Aluminum, hanging piece
365.1 x 200 x 109.9 cm.
Collection The Easton Foundation
Photo: Christopher Burke, (c) The Easton Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, NY

The figurative language used by Louise Bourgeois explores the darker side of human existence through psychoanalysis, metaphor, confession, and more. An overarching theme of duality defines this psychologically charged exhibition which will challenge viewers perception of relationships, while using polarities, to remind them that even from despair can come great beauty. The strongest element of this exhibition lies within its perceptive curatorial team and specifically, Jerry Gorovoy, who worked as an assistant to Bourgeois from the 1980s until her death in 2010. Gorovoy has conceded that working with Bourgeois could be pathological; nevertheless he remains adamant about her prowess and dexterity both as an artist and human being. 
  
Twosome is open at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art from September 7, 2017 to January 8, 2018, while a complimentary exhibition of Louise Bourgeois prints Pink Days / Blue Days is on view at Gordon Gallery from through October 28, 2017.  We highly recommend checking out both shows during this exciting moment in the Tel Aviv art scene. 

Louise Bourgeois in her home studio in 1974. Photo: Mark Setteducati, © The Easton Foundation   Header Image:  Louise Bourgeois TWOSOME, 1991 Steel, paint and electric light 190.5 x 193 x 1244.6 cm. Collection The Easton Foundation Photo: Peter Bellamy, © The Easton Foundation/ Licensed by VAGA, NY

Louise Bourgeois in her home studio in 1974.
Photo: Mark Setteducati, © The Easton Foundation


Header Image: 
Louise Bourgeois
TWOSOME, 1991
Steel, paint and electric light
190.5 x 193 x 1244.6 cm.
Collection The Easton Foundation
Photo: Peter Bellamy, © The Easton Foundation/ Licensed by VAGA, NY