Allan Stone Projects is pleased to announce Dis-Functional, July 9-September 26, 2014, a group exhibition of art mostly created from functional sources, with materials, content and iconography addressing questions of functionality. Sometimes ironic, sometimes formal, sometimes surreal, this exhibition examines diverse means by which negating function and shifting context yield shifts in meaning. With materials such as matches, rakes, pistols, i-beams, books, cigar boxes, saws, hardware, and imagery of a fossilized semi-truck, a crushed motorcycle, and a rusted can, the legacy of Duchamp’s 1917 Fountain is readily visible in the diversity of this exhibition.
Tools and hardware feature prominently, with nuts and bolts incorporated into Arman’s cast resin relief and Dan Basen’s windowed box construction, Jacob Kass’ and Vladimir Salamun’s augmented saws, the Philadelphia Wire Man’s patinated skeins, Richard Stankiewicz’s welded wall piece On Schedule, 1956, and William Umbreit’s twisted rakes. Works by Carlton Bradford incorporate two pistols piercing an i-beam, as well as a bent baseball bat. César’s Compression de Motos Honda (Compressed Motorcycle), 1972, and Dennis Clive’s ceramic “fossil” of a semi-truck, challenge our expectations and hint at the impending obsolescence of transportation mainstays. Richard Haden also questions function on multiple levels in his masterfully carved and painted mahogany trompe l’oeil sculpture of a rusted-shut can of tar. In another feat of illusion, painter Derrick Guild undermines the function of an object central to his practice by presenting a blank canvas perfectly rendered in cast porcelain. Other painters include Robert Baribeau and Wayne Thiebaud, who apply their signature motifs to cigar boxes. Joseph Cornell, Richard Minsky and Barton Benes each supplant our expectations of a book’s purpose to dramatic effect. On equally surreal terms Wayne Nowack clogs a birdcage with toys. Dorothy Grebenak begs the function of a vernacular medium in her 1960s hooked rug in the form of a massive eye chart. Robert Arneson rejected the idea that ceramic artists can produce only utilitarian items and began creating nonfunctional clay pieces in the 1960s, such as A Teapot?, 1969, in this exhibition. A folk art “memory vessel” in the show began as a humble pot whose function was nullified and its meaning elevated by an anonymous artist who encrusted it with objects of personal significance.
The use of functional sources has been central to an ever more inclusive definition of art since Picasso and Braque first introduced wallpaper scraps and rope into their paintings, and Duchamp more infamously signed and placed a urinal on an exhibition pedestal. Motivating these seminal and dissident gestures was an appetite to expand the scope of art from an esthetic endeavor to a contextual one. Each of the artists in this exhibition continues that dialogue with distinctive means.