Bill Bollinger. The Retrospective
Exhibition view Bill Bollinger
Fri, May 27, 2011 6 pm CEST, Opening
"I only do what it is necessary to do. There is no reason to use color, to polish, to bend, to weld, if it is not necessary to do so. Bill Bollinger

A first retrospective in Europe

In the outgoing 1960s, Bill Bollinger (1939–1988) was among the most prominent sculptors of his time, and was associated with the likes of Bruce Nauman, Robert Smithson, Eva Hesse and Richard Serra. Slipping into obscurity from around the mid 1970s on, he no longer figured as a presence in the international art world. The exhibition, initially on display at the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, and to be shown presently at the ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, is the first retrospective aiming to rediscover the complexity, radicality and intensity characteristic of the artist’s oeuvre. At the same time, the presentation is conceived as a contribution to the current effort in revaluating bygone artistic approaches.

With this large-scale overview of the artist’s work, the ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art presents over 30 sculptures and 100 works on paper to a broad public for the first time within Germany. In addition, numerous, hitherto unknown documentary material provides deeper insights into this astonishing work. Together with the publication, produced in conjunction with, and especially for the present exhibition, this retrospective is the fruit of several years of research. A number of the works on display, such as are based on historical documents, Bollinger’s rediscovered instructions for installations and statements by eye-witnesses have been especially reconstructed for the present exhibition.

One of the characteristic features of Bollinger's artistic work is his sensitive treatment of rudimentary, industrially produced materials. The artist manages to make radical, direct and elegant use of such materials as aluminum tubing, ropes, rubber tubing wire meshing, lamps or wheelbarrows.

Bollinger initially studied aeronautical engineering at the prestigious Brown University before turning to painting and taking up his artistic vocation. Around the time of the first moon landing, Bollinger created sculptures that incorporated gravity, balance and attributes specific to an entire range of diverse of materials. Fascinated by curved space, by the vertical and by the horizon, it was cosmos and water which were also of vital thematic interest to him. What emerged were ephemeral, puristic and energy-packed works, which, in view of their radicality, continue to astonish us.

This first ever comprehensive retrospective curated by Christiane Meyer-Stoll and conceptually elaborated in collaboration with Rolf Ricke, was produced by the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein in cooperation with the ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art Karlsruhe and The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh.
Organization / Institution