Gallerynote 4/2011

August 25 to October 15, 2011

Joseph Egan (*1952 Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA)
across the board  

When the concept of art takes concrete shape, the appearance of objects or the result of artistic efforts is characterized by a multiplicity of functions. Many expectations assumed to be self-evident and binding primarily satisfy the preferences or desire for prestige of the groups of participants in the art world which dominate and use the latter at the time of observation. Of course, this is a simplification, abstract and undifferentiated, yet it is helpful in many respects. The preferences in question are seldom clear-cut and by nature have no absolute value, no unforeseeable duration. They can be manipulated, revised and replaced. The global art scene holds ready many possibilities and many stages for presentation. The actors can more or less successfully make themselves or their work widely visible while inestimably diverse forms of expression find it unnecessary to fight for authentication. Numerous functional circuits coincide and occasionally overlap. Contemporary art, its manifestations, institutions and museums, are no doubt a current and timely invention and institution. Yet the field of art can also be compared to a terrain that fortunately consists of layers formed and superimposed over long periods of time and continuing to remain available. Laying the roots somewhat deeper marks a justified resistance to arbitrariness and substitutability enacted by the course of events.

Consideration of the work of Joseph Egan requires the willingness to desist from conventional and authoritarian contentions. Art as a form of life and as an indispensable part of day-to-day existence is all but forgotten. Yet this is the very source his oeuvre’s most profound offerings, making it worth taking a longer path. This goes to suggest that the artist Joseph Egan’s understanding of time and history is scarcely aligned with the narrow track of topicality.

The expression form of life contains the term form. The fact that form and the aspiration to form things have lost their great significance, considered untouchable in the history of philosophical aesthetics, is a curious and questionable phenomenon which manifests itself throughout all contemporary artistic work and presents itself as an intrinsic quality. After all, the form imparts the reality of the world of life and objects, and matter needs form in order to assume intuitive meaning. The social relevance of aesthetic creation has become a blind spot, as it were. A deficiency apparently neither noticed nor regretted.

This is the focal point for Joseph Egan and the works are a testimonial to and fulfillment of an intensive and continuous activity. Such a mandate is certainly not formulated by any art scene or issued by any market, yet the work’s meaning and significance requires no further proof.

‘across the board’ is now the eighth solo exhibition presented in our gallery since 1992. The artist’s working technique does indeed transgress borders. Materials and techniques are employed in an unusual manner and, after having seen these works, it is clear that ‘board’ can also be understood literally as a structuring element and module. The everyday provenance of the material, the rich associations of the found pieces is integrated by the saturated sensuality of painting into a whole. It consists of compressed memories, feelings, experiences that find their embodiment in these objects.


Antonio Calderara,
May 22 to September 18, 2011,
Museum Ritter, Marli Hoppe-Ritter Collection, D-71111 Waldenbuch

Rita McBride | Public Sculpture
Mae West, Effnerplatz München |

November 16, 2008 – 2033
Sol LeWitt
A Wall Drawing Retrospective

Yale University Art Gallery and Williams College Museum of Art