Rebecca Horn: “Work in Progress”

, University Research Gallery, Harvard Art Museums
On View Locate on Floor Plan University Research Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

Rebecca Horn (German, b. 1944) is an internationally recognized contemporary artist, best known for her multimedia approach to art making. Her art can be understood as a “work in progress,” an oeuvre constantly building on itself and drawing from earlier inspiration and production. As the artist noted in 1991, “It all interlocks.” The current exhibition explores this aspect of Rebecca Horn’s art, drawing on recent acquisitions by the Busch-Reisinger Museum, many of which are gifts of the artist.

In the first installation of the exhibition, which was on view through March 10, 2015, two film groupings — Performances 2 (1973, color and sound, 16 mm in DVD projection; 38 min.) and Berlin Exercises: Dreaming under water of things afar (1974/75, color and sound, 16 mm in DVD projection; 42 min.) — were combined into one continuous loop and projected life-size onto the gallery wall. On March 11, 2015, the films were replaced with three large-scale paintings on loan to the museums. Just as she tailored the body extensions from her performances in the early 1970s — seen in the gallery in six black-and-white photographs from the portfolio Performance Edition (printed 2000) — to fit her own measurements and those of her friends and collaborators, the dimensions of the paper support of the new works on view, called Bodylandscapes, correspond to the size, and thereby the limits and possibilities, of her own body.

Also on display is a new work painted mechanically during the activation of the specially commissioned kinetic sculpture by Rebecca Horn, Flying Books under Black Rain Painting (2014), which is installed inside the museums’ new Prescott Street entrance. Titled Out of the Black Rain, this three-part work corresponds to the books featured as part of the commissioned sculpture: Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet, Franz Kafka’s Amerika, and James Joyce’s Ulysses, all chosen by the artist for the way that they resonate in a university context. Like Out of the Black Rain, five multiples, or editioned artworks, dating from the 1970s through the 1990s are also installed in cases designed by the artist.

Together with the exhibition, the museums will offer a program of Rebecca Horn’s full-length feature films. The Gigolo (Der Eintänzer) (1978), Buster’s Bedroom (1990), Moon Mirror Journey (2011), and her earliest films from 1970–72 (Performances 1) will be shown in Menschel Hall on Sunday afternoons throughout the duration of the exhibition. The film series is free.

The exhibition has been curated by Lynette Roth, the Daimler-Benz Curator of the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and was funded by the Charles L. Kuhn Endowment Fund. Modern and contemporary art programs at the Harvard Art Museums are made possible in part by generous support from the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art.