Friday, November 30, 2007

The Third Mind

Bruno Gironcoli

I picked up the current issue of PALAIS Magazine today, which documents the Palais de Tokyo's The Third Mind exhibition, curated by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone.

The exhibition [and magazine-cum-catalog] offers "an MRI scan of his influences, inclinations, and obsessions. This exhibition is constructed as a stroll through a brain in perpetual activity, going straight to the source of the artist's references and discoveries. For the first time his gift for building systems of connections is placed at the service of the works of other artists, not his own. The systems of connections activated as well as the artists and works chosen make The Third Mind an exhibition that no curator/art historian would ever have been able to dream up."

Among the 350 works included are William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin's cult book The Third Mind, the "intimate and strange" wall sculptures of Lee Bontecou, the masks of Nancy Grossman, Andy Warhol's screen tests, and the work of Austrian sculptor Bruno Gironcoli.

Until this afternoon, I was unfamiliar with Gironcoli's work. Shame on me, because he has a museum dedicated to him! From the black and white images presented in PALAIS, my first impression was that this must be the work of an early 20th century surrealist. Upon further inspection (and some Googling,) it makes a great deal of sense that he is Austrian and contemporary. There are certainly hints of Miro and Ernst, but also a uniquely Viennese perversion [which I mean that in the best possible way] that can be seen in everything from the work of H.R. Geiger to the decor of amusements at Prater, rooted in Vienna's distinctive version of Art Nouveau. "Through the transformation of play objects and symbols, often associated with sexuality, the themes of alienation and the absurd are imposed in space. Gironcoli's giant organic and mechanical sculptures are improbable forms that seem to be endowed with a secret life."

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