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Tim Hawkinson

June 26 - August 28, 2005


The Los Angeles County Museum of Art presents the only west coast showing of Tim Hawkinson, on view from June 26 through August 28, 2005. Co-organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and LACMA, this is the first major museum survey of Los Angeles-based artist Tim Hawkinson, considered by many to be a phenomenon within and beyond the art world. The show offers a fascinating and often larger-than-life cross-section of Hawkinson's body of work, including meticulously detailed drawings, minute constructions, inflated latex casts, and fantastical mechanical contraptions. The exhibition will feature more than 65 works spanning two decades.

"Hawkinson's art has a great deal on its mind," said Howard N. Fox, curator of Contemporary Art at LACMA. More than a dazzling display, his works have deep intellectual, philosophical and even religious currents running throughout. Many of his works, such as Penitant (1994) and Pentecost (1999), feature themes of death and immortality and often demonstrate a devotional aspect. Hankinson's central oeuvre is a meditation on nature, machines, the body and human consciousness. Within this oeuvre, Pentecost (1999), one of the highlights of the exhibition, distills all of Hawkinson's modes, methods, and meanings into a pulsating state of ecstasy.

The central subject of Hawkinson's work is often his own body, whose likeness he inflates, measures, weighs, reflects, and animates. Eschewing conventional self-portraits, Hawkinson uses his own physical form as a starting point for investigations into material, perception, and time. His analytical approach is often balanced by a suggestion of spirituality, as in Balloon Self-Portrait (1993, refabricated 2004), a life-size, inflated latex cast of the artist's body that has been inflated and hovers over the gallery floor like an apparition. In other works, though, Hawkinson reduces his self to a simple machine effect, as in the kinetic sculpture Signature (1993), which ceaselessly inscribes the artist's own signature. (right: Tim Hawkinson (United States, born 1960), Balloon Self-Portrait, 1993, 72 x 48 x 33 inches, latex and air, Ace Gallery © Tim Hawkinson, Photo courtesy of Ace Gallery)

Since the late 1980s, many of his important works in photography, drawing, printmaking and painting have been constructed from found objects and handcrafted materials and machines to create distinctive works that are personal yet seemingly scientific. Many of these materials are common or store-bought and endow his pieces with a mysterious sense of familiarity and accessibility, while also bringing a sense of inventiveness that inspires surprise, wonder, and even awe. Two prominent pieces on view that demonstrate this sense of inventiveness on both small and large scale are Feather (1997) and Spin Sink (1 Rev./100 Years) (1995). Feather (1997) is a tiny feather made from the artist's own hair, while Spin Sink (1 Rev./100 Years) (1995), in contrast, is a 24-foot-long row of interlocking gears, the smallest of which is driven by a whirring toy motor that in turn drives each consecutively larger and more slowly turning gear up to the largest of all, which rotates approximately once every one hundred years. Several of Hawkinson's other mechanical works function as eccentric musical instruments, whistling, honking, and clacking to the artist's own scores or popular songs.

"While Hawkinson's prolific work and fantastical sculptures may lead some to perceive Hawkinson's pursuit as a kind of madness, that of the 'mad scientist'", stated Fox it may be a means to a state of grace. Most likely it is both. (left: Tim Hawkinson (United States, born 1960), Self-Portrait (Height Determined by Weight), 1990, lead, 15 1/2 x 9 1/4 x 11 inches. Private Collection. Photo courtesy of Ace Gallery)


About the Artist

Born in San Francisco in 1960, Tim Hawkinson lives and works in Los Angeles. He graduated from San Jose State University and later went on to earn his MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1989. His one-artist exhibitions include shows at MASS MoCA and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington. While Hawkinson's work has appeared in numerous recent group exhibitions, including the 2002 Whitney Biennial, he has not had a comprehensive solo show since 1996.

This exhibition was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Major support was provided by Peter Norton and the Peter Norton Family Foundation. Significant funding was provided by the National Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Los Angeles presentation was made possible by Gallery C. Additional support was provided by the Modern and Contemporary Art Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Pasadena Art Alliance, and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation.

The exhibition catalogue is a thorough investigation of Hawkinson's work. It includes essays by Whitney Museum of Art adjunct curator Lawrence Rinder, LACMA curator Howard N. Fox, and art critic Doug Harvey. The full-color, 223-page catalog distributed by Harry N. Abrams is available for purchase at the LACMA Museum Shop. (right: Tim Hawkinson (United States, born 1960), Shorts, 1993, 14 x 14 x 10 inches, extension cord, Collection of Joel and Judy Slutsky. Photo courtesy of Ace Gallery)


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