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Robert Rauschenberg, Revolver II

Robert Rauschenberg, Revolver II (1967), silkscreen ink on five rotating Plexiglas discs in metal base with electric motors and control box [Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Feb 20-Jun 12] © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation SODRAC, Montreal / VAGA, New York (2016)

MashUp: The Birth of Modern Culture

Vancouver Art Gallery
Vancouver BC – Feb 20-Jun 12, 2016

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (SmashUp)

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (SmashUp) (2016) site-specific installation at the Vancouver Art Gallery [Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Feb 20-Jun 12] Photo: Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery

Marcel Duchamp, Bicycle Wheel

Marcel Duchamp, Bicycle Wheel (1913), 6th version 1964, bicycle fork with wheel mounted on painted wooden stool [Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Feb 20-Jun 12] National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa © Estate of Marcel Duchamp / SODRAC (2015)

Hannah Höch, Untitled (Large Hand Over Woman’s Head)

Hannah Höch, Untitled (Large Hand Over Woman’s Head) (1930), photomontagel [Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Feb 20-Jun 12] Collection Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto © Estate of Hannah Höch / SODRAC (2016)

The beginning is at the end. Split into four eras, one floor for each, the Vancouver Art Gallery’s largest and most ambitious show in its 85-year history has visitors travel backwards in time as they ascend to the fourth floor.

There is a dizzying array of work in this show, which features 371 works by 156 artists. The first floor focuses on the digital age and activities such as hacking and remixing (e.g., Tobias Wong); on the second floor there’s the late twentieth-century fascination with splicing, sampling and street art (e.g., Jean-Michel Basquiat); on the third there’s the post-war period and the exploration of mass media (e.g., Andy Warhol).

The fourth floor hosts the origins or “birth” of modern culture as exemplified by the still notorious (in some circles) urinal titled Fountain by Marcel Duchamp (5th version, 1964, from Canada’s National Gallery).

Visiting now may be a good idea, as there are rumours that some of these works may never be loaned out again. Many pieces of modern and contemporary art are fragile, and pieces like the fourth floor’s La Boîte-en-valise (Marcel Duchamp, 1963 version, from the Art Gallery of Ontario), reminiscent of a doll’s house and constructed from cardboard, are growing more delicate with age.

Maryse de la Giroday

 Fri, Apr 8, 2016