Photo by Paul Hester; courtesy of The Estate of Walter De Maria

The Menil Collection presents "Walter De Maria: Boxes for Meaningless Work," the first museum exhibition survey of the more than fifty-year-long career of American artist Walter De Maria (1935–2013). On view exclusively at the Menil, the show presents the artist’s remarkable exploration of space, time, and spirituality through works from the museum’s permanent collection, most of which have been recently acquired and never before publicly displayed.

De Maria actively participated in New York City’s avant-garde music and performance circles in the early 1960s. The artist’s radically simple works from this time, with their modest materials and construction, embody the up-and-coming ideas that led to development of the Minimalism, Conceptualism, Earth Art, and participatory art movements that shaped De Maria’s career in the years that followed.

The first gallery showcases a group of plywood constructions and paintings that inspired the title of this exhibition, which was taken from De Maria’s writings from 1960. The artist declared that he wanted to make “meaningless work” about arbitrary actions and playful gestures that lacked any productive outcome.

In many of the presented works, inscribed directions invite the viewer to undertake “meaningless” tasks, often involving the movement of balls and activation of boxes. “Transfer things from one box to the next, back and forth, back and forth, etc.,” reads one. “Walk around the box,” instructs another.

The Menil Collection presents "Walter De Maria: Boxes for Meaningless Work," the first museum exhibition survey of the more than fifty-year-long career of American artist Walter De Maria (1935–2013). On view exclusively at the Menil, the show presents the artist’s remarkable exploration of space, time, and spirituality through works from the museum’s permanent collection, most of which have been recently acquired and never before publicly displayed.

De Maria actively participated in New York City’s avant-garde music and performance circles in the early 1960s. The artist’s radically simple works from this time, with their modest materials and construction, embody the up-and-coming ideas that led to development of the Minimalism, Conceptualism, Earth Art, and participatory art movements that shaped De Maria’s career in the years that followed.

The first gallery showcases a group of plywood constructions and paintings that inspired the title of this exhibition, which was taken from De Maria’s writings from 1960. The artist declared that he wanted to make “meaningless work” about arbitrary actions and playful gestures that lacked any productive outcome.

In many of the presented works, inscribed directions invite the viewer to undertake “meaningless” tasks, often involving the movement of balls and activation of boxes. “Transfer things from one box to the next, back and forth, back and forth, etc.,” reads one. “Walk around the box,” instructs another.

The Menil Collection presents "Walter De Maria: Boxes for Meaningless Work," the first museum exhibition survey of the more than fifty-year-long career of American artist Walter De Maria (1935–2013). On view exclusively at the Menil, the show presents the artist’s remarkable exploration of space, time, and spirituality through works from the museum’s permanent collection, most of which have been recently acquired and never before publicly displayed.

De Maria actively participated in New York City’s avant-garde music and performance circles in the early 1960s. The artist’s radically simple works from this time, with their modest materials and construction, embody the up-and-coming ideas that led to development of the Minimalism, Conceptualism, Earth Art, and participatory art movements that shaped De Maria’s career in the years that followed.

The first gallery showcases a group of plywood constructions and paintings that inspired the title of this exhibition, which was taken from De Maria’s writings from 1960. The artist declared that he wanted to make “meaningless work” about arbitrary actions and playful gestures that lacked any productive outcome.

In many of the presented works, inscribed directions invite the viewer to undertake “meaningless” tasks, often involving the movement of balls and activation of boxes. “Transfer things from one box to the next, back and forth, back and forth, etc.,” reads one. “Walk around the box,” instructs another.

WHEN

WHERE

The Menil Collection
1533 Sul Ross St.
Houston, TX 77006
https://www.menil.org/exhibitions/359-walter-de-maria-boxes-for-meaningless-work

TICKET INFO

Admission is free.
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