Pawel Althamer stages one day show
Sculptor closes New Museum retrospective with a show of new works in the museum’s storefront space
Pawel Althamer has always been an artist unafraid to bring the wider public into contact with his work. Throughout his recent retrospective at the New Museum in New York, The Neighbors, the artist has run sculpture and film workshops with the New Yorkers who live nearby, including residents of the nearby homeless shelter, the Bowery Mission.
These works, alongside a selection of other pieces by Althamer’s collaborator, the Malian master sculptor Youssouf Dara, and sixteen new sculptures made during the exhibitions run by Althamer in partnership with a range of artists, friends, and collaborators, went on display for a single day in the New Museum’s storefront space at 231 Bowery. Entry was free and open to the public.
Walking in, you couldn’t help but be struck by the humanity of this project. The room was full of people, mostly the artists from the Bowery Mission, discussing their work with each other and anyone who would listen, beaming with pride at what they had accomplished. Keeping with Althamer’s own body of work on identity and the self, the artist spent the past few months, helping a group from the Bowery Mission shelter next door to craft their own sculptural self-portraits. The range of the works was wide, from very literal attempts at recognizable portraiture to much more abstract concepts. It was a bit uncanny to see the obvious subjects of some of the works standing so nearby but also made it feel like you had a unique window into their psyches and motivations.
Pawel Althamer himself was there, floating around unobtrusive and unnoticed, making subtle adjustments to some of the works and consulting with the artists. Althamer spent a few minutes helping Antoine McKnight readjust part of his sculpture after McKnight dismantled an attached maquette to pose for a picture. New Museum Associate Director Massimiliano Gioni, briefly rushing in and out, caught a glimpse of the interaction between Althamer and McKnight and smiled, clearly pleased with the community engagement and sense of pride Althamer’s project and presence had fostered.
To find out more about this end to Althamer’s show, go here. And if you'd like to learn more about this talented artist take a look at this great monograph and, if you like what you see, you may like to consider this limited edition sculpture by the artist.