National Gallery Unveils BODY SCULPTURE By Renowned Contemporary Artist Jordan Wolfson

This is the first solo presentation of Wolfson's work in Australia and features the world premiere of Body Sculpture.

By: Dec. 06, 2023
National Gallery Unveils BODY SCULPTURE By Renowned Contemporary Artist Jordan Wolfson
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National Gallery Unveils BODY SCULPTURE By Renowned Contemporary Artist Jordan Wolfson

The National Gallery of Australia today unveils Body Sculpture, the highly anticipated new sculpture by Los Angeles-based artist Jordan Wolfson and a major acquisition for the national collection.

This is the first solo presentation of Wolfson's work in Australia and features the world premiere of Body Sculpture.

Jordan Wolfson is an American artist whose work reflects the situation of the world today. As with Wolfson's previous animatronic works Female Figure 2014 and Colored Sculpture 2016, this new work combines sculpture and performance to generate emotional and physical responses in the viewer.

His art positions the audience in a physical and moral confrontation with issues facing society and our own place within them, acting as a witness to the darkness within the human condition.

Wolfson said: ‘The intention is that the movement of [Body Sculpture] elicits the viewer to become activated in their bodies and therefore present… It's about seeing ourselves through three‑dimensional objects, which is what I believe sculpture as doing.'

National Gallery Director, Dr Nick Mitzevich said the acquisition of Body Sculpture builds on the Gallery's legacy of collecting groundbreaking works.

‘From its inception, the national collection has been shaped by bold and ambitious acquisitions, with the aim of sharing the most significant artworks and ideas from around the world with the Australian public,' Mitzevich said.

‘Body Sculpture is a historic acquisition for the National Gallery, marking a milestone in contemporary art. As with other great works in the national collection, it will continue to reverberate into the future.'

‘It is the first work by Wolfson to enter an Australian collection, and we are proud to present it for the first time here in Kamberri/Canberra.'

Mitzevich said Body Sculpture, along with Jordan's other two animatronic sculptures, are defining works of the past decade, pushing the boundaries of what we expect from a work of art by combining performance, sculpture, robotics and sound to create compelling and unsettling experiences.

‘Body Sculpture takes this experience further in terms of scale, duration and complexity. Fusing abstraction and figuration, the work explores the potential of sculpture as an object in space. Its interacting robotic elements perform an intricate choreography that questions the intersection between human and machine, between embodiment and symbolism, and between object and viewer,' Mitzevich said.

Jordan Wolfson: Body Sculpture opens to the public on Saturday 9 December 2023 and runs until Sunday 28 April 2024. Body Sculpture is shown alongside key works from the national collection selected by the artist, offering audiences further insights into Wolfson's innovative vision.

The exhibition is also accompanied by an illustrated publication that explores robust ideas and positions the work within diverse contexts, including art history, cybernetics and media theory.

Russell Storer, Head Curator, International Art

Jordan Wolfson (b. 1980) is known for his thought-provoking works in a wide range of media, including video, sculpture, installation, photography and performance. Pulling intuitively from the world of advertising, the internet, and the technology industry, he produces ambitious and enigmatic narratives that frequently revolve around a series of invented, animatronic characters. Through his art, Wolfson probes difficult topics and themes that underlie American culture and contemporary society. 

Wolfson was born in 1980 in New York and lives and works in Los Angeles. In 2003 he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design, and in 2009 he received the Frieze Foundation's Cartier Award, which assists an artist from outside the United Kingdom in realising a major work at the Frieze Art Fair in London. His institutional exhibitions worldwide include presentations at the Kunsthalle Zürich (2004); Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo, Italy (2007); Swiss Institute, New York (2008); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany (2011); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2012), the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium (2013) and Kunsthaus Bregenz (2022). In 2016, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, hosted a two-part solo survey exhibition, MANIC/LOVE/TRUTH/LOVE. In 2018, the Broad, Los Angeles, presented Wolfson's decade-defining sculpture Female Figure (2014) and the Tanks at Tate Modern hosted the inaugural London presentation of Colored Sculpture (2016).

Media Preview | 7 December at 11am
Exhibition Season | 9 December 2023 to 28 April 2024

Jordan Wolfson: Body Sculpture is a ticketed art experience. Tickets are free. Session times will vary during the season. To book, visit this link.

Body Sculpture: Jordan Wolfson in conversation with Russell Storer
Sat 9 Dec 2023, 2pm. James Fairfax Theatre
Free, onsite and online
Join renowned American contemporary artist Jordan Wolfson in conversation with Russell Storer (Head Curator, International Art) to celebrate the world premiere of his new robotic work, Body Sculpture — a major acquisition for the National Gallery's collection.

The Making of Body Sculpture: Mark Setrakian in conversation with Richard Taylor
Sat 9 Dec 2023, 11am. James Fairfax Theatre.
Free, onsite and online
Robotics expert Mark Setrakian played a crucial role in realising Jordan Wolfson's vision for Body Sculpture. In this conversation, Setrakian and Richard Taylor, of Wētā Workshop, will expand on the cutting-edge technology that has made Body Sculpture possible and what it might mean for the future of robotics.


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