Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Viewing Room | Material Matters

April 7, 2020 - April 21, 2020

Material Matters examines the complex role of materiality in the work of eleven leading artists today. Spanning 60 years of artmaking, the exhibition explores how material choices guide artistic expression and provide the tools to disrupt expectation, shape meaning, and embody symbolic content. ​

Lynda Benglis, Quahatika, 2013, glazed ceramic, 23″ × 13″ × 10″ (58.4 cm × 33 cm × 25.4 cm) © Lynda Benglis

The unexpected outcomes that emerge from combining disparate materials can result in semiotic experimentation as well as aesthetic and formal play. Robert Rauschenberg—who invented the term “combine” to refer to objects that combine aspects of sculpture and painting in a single work—is perhaps one of the most influential artists to engage in such material play. To make Quorum (Unions) (1975), Rauschenberg collaborated with workers from a local paper mill while he was living in India, to create a “rag-mud” structure of paper pulp, ground tamarind seeds, copper sulfate, and other materials that suggest the symbolic embodiment of the context in which the work was made. ​

Ceramic sculptures by Lynda Benglis, Arlene Shechet, Richard Tuttle, and Lee Ufan point to a relationship between materiality, alchemy, and intuition, qualities inherent in the malleable, slippery nature of base materials like clay. In other instances, such as in the works of Yin Xiuzhen and Song Dong, material choices offer a symbolic language that engages social and economic contexts, revealing the power structures and histories that shape the contemporary material world.​

Found objects can also function as conceptual material and fodder for transformative processes that subvert expectation. In Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s work, everyday objects have been expanded to a colossal scale, while other works remain small and playfully frozen in a moment, like the melting ice cream and spilling cherries in Paradise Pies (2009). Tara Donovan’s inventive use of manufactured materials such as Slinkys, paper plates, pins, and straws engage in a formal dialogue with light and space, while creating imaginative forms that transform the identity of the material itself. ​

The most recent works in this exhibition investigate the physical composition of objects and their relationship to contemporary production, technology, and the environment. DRIFT’s material studies of common objects such as iPhones and bicycles offer a profound understanding of our alienation from the extracted raw materials that are needed to make the objects we use every day. ​

Pace’s online viewing rooms offer rich contextual lenses through which to engage with our artists’ work and exhibitions. To inquire about any of the works featured in this exhibition, please email inquiries@pacegallery.com.

We invite you to explore our other Viewing Rooms including Saul Steinberg: Imagined Interiors, James Turrell, Julian Schnabel: The Patch of Blue the Prisoner Calls the Sky, Paul Graham: The Seasons, Arlene Schechet: Skirts, and Noland: Flares.


April 7, 2020
April 21, 2020
Event Categories:


Pace Gallery 25th Street
540 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10001 United States
+ Google Map
(212) 421-3292
View Venue Website


Robert Rauschenberg, Lynda Benglis, Arlene Shechet, Richard Tuttle, Lee Ufan, Yin Xiuzhen, Song Dong, Claes Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen, Tara Donovan, DRIFT
Andria Hickey, Joe Baptista, Danielle Forest