Wednesday, March 26, 2008

“Styrofoam” at RISD

From my review of “Styrofoam” at the RISD Museum:
There is something about foamed polystyrene — better known by its trademark name, Styrofoam — that seems to embody the space-age future. This, and the fact that it’s light, cheap, and easily worked draws some artists to use it. But for many artists, the attraction to Styrofoam is that it is crap — usually nonbiodegradable, difficult to recycle, and ugly.

“It’s not to celebrate this material that I used it,” Richard Tuttle has written. “It is one of the worst materials used by man.”

It’s the crap aspect of the material that rises to the surface of the RISD Museum’s “Styrofoam,” a small, smartly organized show of irritating art. Judith Tannenbaum, the museum’s contemporary art curator, has rounded up a number of artists who use Styrofoam and, in doing so, corrals a trend burbling up in art today that begins with the material and runs toward an idea. But most of the art here is offputting — and purposely so.
Read the rest here.

“Styrofoam,” RISD Museum, 224 Benefit St., Providence, March 14 to July 20, 2008.

Pictured from top to bottom: Heide Fasnacht, “Exploding Airplane,” 2000, and Richard Tuttle, “Lonesome Cowboy Styrofoam #7,” 1988.


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