A Brief History of Invisible Art

November 30, 2005 to February 18, 2006

A Brief History of Invisible Art will bring together artworks from six decades that place a pronounced emphasis on the conceptual and communicative possibilities of the work of art, while bypassing its seeming requirements of visibility and materiality. In surveying this neglected terrain, the exhibition will include works that represent a wide range of aesthetic practices and that engage with surprisingly diverse concerns.

From Yves Klein's Utopian plans for an "architecture of air" to Tom Friedman's sculpture of a cursed space above a plinth to Michael Asher's Column of Air, which subtly annotates the gallery architecture and the path of a visitor through space, to the "practical idealism" of Jay Chung's invisible film, the works in this exhibition underscore the role of audience response.

Whether questioning our faith in art's materiality, mocking the theological aura of museum rhetoric, or calling attention to the importance of linguistic description in cultural production, these works prompt us to see through the more grandiose distractions of contemporary art and so to think more clearly about its underlying functions. They remind us that, in the larger scheme of things, art occupies a fairly immaterial place in the world and that it ultimately comes to life in our thoughts and imagination, and in the uses we make of it.

A Brief History of Invisible Art will feature works by several seminal figures in the history of conceptual art, as well as by more recent artists who respond to and elaborate upon their legacy. Artists in the exhibition include Art & Language, Michael Asher, Robert Barry, James Lee Byars, Maurizio Cattelan, Jay Chung, Trisha Donnelly, Tom Friedman, Carsten Holler, Bethan Huws, Bruno Jakob, Yves Klein, Glenn Ligon, Jonathan Monk, Gianni Motti, and Andy Warhol.

Listen to discussion about the exhibition on the radio show Sight Unseen (MP3).

Generous lead support for CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts programs has been provided by Phyllis C. Wattis and Judy and Bill Timken. Major support has also been provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation. Additional generous support provided by Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, Ann Hatch and Paul Discoe, and the CCA Curator's Forum.