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Across the River

site-specific installation for FORTY at MoMA PS1, 2016

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Robert Yasuda, Across the River, 2016, two-part site-specific installation


Robert Yasuda on his work for MoMA PS1 "40" Exhibition


Robert Yasuda creates abstract and atmospheric paintings with custom framing elements. He typically employs numerous layers of translucent acrylic-based pigments, resulting in a richly iridescent surface that responds dynamically to both natural and artificial light.

For Rooms, Yasuda created an “installation painting,” executing his work on architectural supports consisting of freestanding walls angled downward toward the viewer. “One of the most important things about Rooms was being able to create a work without dealing with permanence,” Yasuda recalls. “That freed you to work with the moment, and to make the piece for that place, and actually for nowhere else. I appreciate the control that site-specific work gives the artist.”

In Across the River (a reference to the geographical location of PS1 from Manhattan), Yasuda has recreated a version of the large, leaning painting he made for Rooms, once again engaging the particular constraints of the gallery space: “I am really working with the electric bulbs you have, and the quality of the reflective paint you have on the walls,” Yasuda explains. “For me, it’s always trying to incorporate all the different elements that exist in the room, and making them part of the piece. There is a beam that goes across the ceiling, and at first that seemed like an encumbrance, but once I decided to incorporate it, it was terrific that it was there. It just changes the whole nature of the space. And part of my job as an artist is to become inclusive, and to have as much of the room work for the piece as possible.”


Organized by P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center founder, Alanna Heiss, FORTY features work by over 40 artists who were key participants in the 1970s alternative art spaces movement and the early years of P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. In 1976, Alanna Heiss founded P.S.1 as the latest venture in a series of pioneering projects organized through her non-profit organization, the Institute for Art and Urban Resources, which included the Clocktower Gallery in lower Manhattan and other disused spaces across New York City. With both the intellectual and physical room to experiment, nearly 80 artists created work for P.S.1’s inaugural 1976 show, Rooms, which has since become a landmark in the art history of 1970s New York. The artists used classrooms, stairwells, windows, closets, bathrooms, the boiler room, courtyard, and attic—often engaging directly with the existing architecture. Rooms catalyzed changes in the forms and methods of making art, and expanded ideas about how it could be shown.


Four decades later, FORTY revisits the work of many of the artists who participated in the inaugural exhibition, in some cases featuring works shown in Rooms. Presented across the museum’s second floor galleries, FORTY revisits the radical vision and experimental spirit that characterized P.S.1's early years.

FORTY features work by Cecile Abish, Laurie Anderson, Carl Andre, Richard Artschwager, John Baldessari, Jennifer Bartlett, Lynda Benglis, James Bishop, Daniel Buren, Colette, Ron Gorchov, Dan Graham, Robert Grosvenor, Marcia Hafif, David Hammons, Jene Highstein, Nancy Holt, Bill Jensen, Richard “Dickie” Landry, Barry Le Va, Sol LeWitt, Gordon Matta-Clark, John McCracken, Mary Miss, Max Neuhaus, Richard Nonas, Brian O’Doherty, Dennis Oppenheim, Nam June Paik, Howardena Pindell, Robert Ryman, Alan Saret, Joel Shapiro, Judith Shea, Charles Simonds, Keith Sonnier, Pat Steir, Michelle Stuart, Lawrence Weiner, Doug Wheeler, Jackie Winsor, and Robert Yasuda.


Listening stations throughout the exhibition highlight a series of audio conversations between Alanna Heiss and participating artists. Produced in connection with FORTY by Clocktower Productions, a non-profit arts organization and radio station directed by Alanna Heiss, the series provides visitors with an intimate view into P.S.1’s early history.


Organized by Alanna Heiss, Founding Director, MoMA PS1, and Director, Clocktower Productions, with Beatrice Johnson, Associate Curator, Clocktower Productions; and Oliver Shultz, Curatorial Assistant, MoMA PS1.

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