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Michael Rakowitz: The Monument, The Monster, and The Maquette

September 8 - October 21

Jane Lombard Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition by gallery artist Michael Rakowitz, entitled The Monument, The Monster and The Maquette. Continuing his exploration of monuments, the artist will mount a new installation of this ongoing series for the first time in New York. The exhibition will be on view from September 8 – October 21, 2023, with an opening reception held on September 8 from 6-8 PM.


Rakowitz’s research-based studio practice is evidenced throughout this body of work, itself titled after a line of etymological inquiry. Scrawled across a mantelpiece at the base of the hybrid sculpture American Golem, the artist notes that “‘Monument’ is derived from the latin verb monere, meaning to remind, advise, warn. Also derived from monere: demonstrate, remonstrate, monster.” Rakowitz turns to the monument as a way to offer a renewed, transparent conceptual framework within which the dynamics underlying conventional history can be exposed as matters of power and rhetoric rather than of mindless observance. His amalgamation of the disparate elements that comprise American Golem can be considered a form of contemporary spolia – the ancient practice in which the architectural spoils of war and conquest were reappropriated into new, monumental structures, prominently displayed in the public forum. Rakowitz’s extensive research transforms these individual fragments both literally and conceptually as he physically annotates the sourced sculptures with critical context surrounding their origins and historical trajectories. In doing so, the artist subverts the millenia-old connotation of spolia as political symbols of both triumph and warning. He adapts the technique to reveal the uncomfortable truths that connect these seemingly distinct fragments beneath their heroic patina.  


With several explicit ties to New York City, American Golem engages local and regional audiences with a meticulously researched web of unsettling complexities. For example, the granite slab comprising part of the stone pedestal at the base of the central figure reads, “North Jay granite from Maine, extracted from the occupied land of the Abenaki people. Used in Grant’s Tomb in NYC.” The artist’s inscription highlights the underrecognized historical mistreatment of the American Indigenous people in relation to Ulysses Grant, who served as president during the initial Abenaki occupation. Rakowitz juxtaposes the countless unnamed deaths and forced assimilation of the Indigenous people under ongoing American settler colonialism with the memorialization of Grant, one of the many executioners in American history. 


Also featured in the exhibition is the inflatable sculpture Behemoth, which suggests a majestic equestrian figure shrouded beneath a black tarp, “breathing” through a cycle of inflation and deflation in a dramatic installation that embodies the constant discourse around monuments in America. A selection of drawings on layered architectural vellum will accompany the sculptural works in the gallery, depicting various instances of “the monument that was” as a shadow of its resultant form. 

The Monument, the Monster and the Maquette was researched and built with the assistance of Annie Raccuglia, Nick Raffel, Derek Sutfin/Gravity Exhibitions, and Landmark Creations.


Jane Lombard Gallery
(212) 967-8040
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Michael Rakowitz


Jane Lombard Gallery
58 White Street
New York, NY 10013 United States
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