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Agnes Denes: Projects for Public Spaces

February 14 - May 2, 2004


Agnes Denes does not fit into easy categories -- having been at the forefront of conceptual art, ecological art, land art and projects for public spaces. Perhaps her best-known work is Wheatfield - a Confrontation (featured in Newsweek and the New York Times), a project in which she negotiated the use of three unpopulated "garbage islands" in the East River, planted them with wheat and documented their growth. (right: Agnes Denes, artist)

A pioneer of both environmental and conceptual art, Agnes Denes has explored cultural, social and ecological issues in her art, often on a monumental scale -- as with her landmark Wheatfield - a Confrontation. In conjunction with the exhibition Agnes Denes: Projects for Public Spaces, the artist will present an illustrated lecture on the topic "Creating a New World View" on Tuesday, March 2 at 7 p.m. at the Museum.

The exhibition and national tour were organized by the Samek Art Gallery, Bucknell University, Dan Mills, Director


About the artist

Denes was one of the first artists to be involved with the relationship of science to art, and was also a pioneer of ecological art. One of the first artists to initiate the environmental art movement, her work involves ecological, cultural and social issues, and is often monumental in scale. Perhaps best known for Wheatfield - A Confrontation (1982), a two-acre wheat field she planted and harvested downtown Manhattan, a work that addresses human values and misplaced priorities. In 1996 she completed Tree Mountain - A Living Time Capsule in Finland, a massive earthwork and reclamation project that reaches four centuries into the future to benefit future generations with a meaningful legacy. In 1998 she planted a forest of 6000 trees in Melbourne Australia and is presently creating a 25-year Masterplan for a 85-km area in the center of the Netherlands. (right: Wheatfield - A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan, 1982)

Denes has shown in over 300 solo and group exhibitions on four continents and participated in such major international exhibitions as Documenta 1977 and 2002 Kassel, Germany; Project '74 Cologne; the Biennale of Sydney, Australia 1976; the Venice Biennales of 1978, 1980 and 2001; the "Master of Drawing" Invitational at the Kunsthalle in Nurnberg, Germany, 1982; "Strata" in Finland, 1992; "Different Natures" in Paris and Barcelona, 1993-94; "Light of the New Millennium", Pusan, Korea, 1998; and "Force-Fields" Barcelona and London in 2001. In 1992 she had a major retrospective at the Johnson Museum at Cornell University, accompanied by a 200-page catalog for which 5 art historians have contributed essays.

An artist of enormous vision, Denes has written four books and holds a doctorate in fine arts. She lectures extensively at universities in the U.S. and abroad and participates in global conferences. Among her numerous awards are the Watson Transdisciplinary Art Award from Carnegie Mellon University (1999); the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome (1998); the Eugene McDermott Achievement Award from M.LT. (1990); four National Endowment Fellowships and four NYSCA grants; and the DAAD Fellowship from Berlin. Denes is a Research Fellow at the Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Menon University; the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MJ.T., and the Currant Institute at N.Y.U. for a period. A traveling retrospective of her environmental art has opened at Bucknell University in January 2003, accompanied by an extensive catalog. (right: Grand Unification Theory, 2002, archival digital image from the original design)

Selected public collections include: Metropolitan Museum of Art, MaMA and Whitney Museum in New York; National Museum of American Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, National Gallery of Art and Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.; Kunsthalle, Nuremberg,; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell Univ. & many others.

--From the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Artists, London, England and American Academy in Rome, Italy (catalogue)


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