Ugo Rondinone: Big Mind Sky by Saul Ostrow

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 103 Spring 2008
Issue 103 103 Cover

Home of the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Company


​Ugo Rondinone

Ugo Rondinone, Moonrise, East, January 2007, cast aluminum and wooden plinth, 93½ x 49 x 49 inches. Courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery.

For his most recent venture “Big Mind Sky”, the Swiss-born artist Ugo Rondinone packed 12 gargantuan and grotesquely grinning busts—each named after a month—into the cavernous space of Matthew Marks Gallery in New York. With bulging eyes, ripsaw teeth, tusks, and snouts that appear to be made of plasticine, their initial effect is that of seeing jack-o’-lanterns on acid, or the preparations of big head puppets for carnival.

Small paintings in graphite and white gesso on linen are hung at regular intervals on the walls of the gallery, forming a horizon line. They depict landscapes or buildings seen in different cities to which the artist has traveled, as well as objects found in his studio. Each is titled with the date the work was completed (á la On Kawara) and is installed together with poem drawings—short verses written in graphite directly on the wall.

Given the disparity of scale, subject, and aesthetics of the paintings and sculptures, one is left with the impression that they’ve seen a mismatched, two-person show combining the lyric and the hallucinatory. However, not knowing what to expect is exactly what one has come to expect of Rondinone.

By pairing foreign bodies, Rondinone sets in motion a game of quotes, appropriations, and references that stresses the theatricality of his vision. His determination to frustrate any effort to apprehend his work in totality appears to be symbolized by another element that makes up “Big Mind Sky:” a metal keyhole, which one can imagine as having come from an oversized old door. A current of warm air blows from the keyhole as if to indicate another space to which one may never gain access.

Saul Ostrow is Chair of Visual Arts and Technologies at the Cleveland Institute of Art and editor of the book series Critical Voices in Art, Theory and Culture. He is presently organizing the exhibition Color in 3D: Found, Readymade and Applied at the Westport Art Center in Connecticut for May 2008.

Corban Walker by Amanda Means
Walker 02
Related
Anoka Faruqee and Michelle Grabner
Faruqee Anoka 01

Two artists find a mutual fascination with both the aesthetic qualities of repetition and the mechanical means of reproduction.

The Company She Keeps by Jane Dickson
Annearnoldloisdodd Body

Sculptor Judith Shea curates an archive of self-portraits by women members at the National Academy Museum.

Mickalene Thomas by Sean Landers
Mickalene Thomas 1

I met Mickalene Thomas a decade ago at the Yale University School of Art and liked her instantly. She was a standout for her energy, drive, open–mindedness, and raw talent. For this interview I visited her in her Brooklyn studio where we were surrounded by a half dozen or so of her new paintings in various stages of development.

Originally published in

BOMB 103, Spring 2008

Featuring interviews with Joseph Bartscherer, Steve DiBenedetto, Jonathan Lethem and Lydia Millet, Zachary Lazar, Harmony Korine, Tav Falco, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Read the issue
Issue 103 103 Cover