Jim Isermann: Reunion, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, NY

Installation view.

January 5 – February 4, 2012

On 5 January 2012, Mary Boone Gallery will open at its Fifth Avenue location Reunion, a selection of work from the 1980s by JIM ISERMANN.

Isermann belongs to that influential second generation of LA artists who post-graduated from CalArts in the late 1970s. Isermann had been ahead of the curve by being out of step to begin with. During the high point of Postmodernism, he was excavating Modernism – West Coast Modernism in particular – at a time when it was overlooked, even abject and defeated. These seminal works, abstract and sometimes functional, work the then vacated borderline between art and design, anticipating the return to functionalism that later engaged many artists a decade younger. The fact that Isermann’s early work was handmade also reintroduced to critical discourse debates around craft associated with feminist and queer positions.

Immediately following Isermann’s vacuum-formed drop ceiling installation at the Chelsea space, this exhibition, his second at Mary Boone Gallery, presents a dozen or more works from the mid to late 1980s and one work from 1993. The centerpiece of the show is the 1985 Flower Seating Group. Designed to function as gallery furniture, in this work five painted, plywood-framed, lawn-chair-webbed supports surround five petal shaped tables and face out toward the gallery walls as opposed to acknowledging each other. A Flower Ceiling Pendant Light and a Flower Painting, both adjunct components of this work’s original 1986 installation, are also on view.

Completing the exhibition is an array of four-foot-square enamel on wooden panel Hole Paintings and a complementary painted steel mobile, two sets of prototypical Shag Paintings, and one hand-pieced fabric wall hanging. The serial Hole Paintings utilized generic optical patterns and color schemes rotated around a pattern-integral void. The Shag Paintings pair latch hook Orlon acrylic yarn (low art) panels with hard edge geometric enamel (high art) panels. While painfully didactic, the Shag Paintings also create an optical experience as the hard edge pattern slips into the seemingly out-of-focus yarn section, and back again. The meditative and serenely sublime Wall Hanging from 1993 is constructed of over 1500 hand-pieced fabric triangles.

While these works resonate with the best populist examples of Super Graphics they never settle for being retrograde. The works take as their starting point the most elementary of geometric and coloristic units: they are as aesthetically persuasive as the best manifestations of geometric art of the last century.

The exhibition, at 745 Fifth Avenue, will continue through 4 February 2012. For further information, please contact Ron Warren at the Gallery, or visit our website www.maryboonegallery.com.