Living as Shelter

Three readings of H. C. Westermann

7, 14, 15, 21 and 22 March 2019 - 10am / Nouvel Building, Study Centre

Free admission prior registration

H.C. Westermann. The Bronze Man, 1977. Mixed Technique, 54 × 62 × 31 cm. The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago; The H. C. Westermann Study Collection, donation of Dennis Adrian in memory of the artist
H.C. Westermann. The Bronze Man, 1977. Mixed Technique, 54 × 62 × 31 cm. The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago; The H. C. Westermann Study Collection, donation of Dennis Adrian in memory of the artist

This research workshop is based on the exhibition H. C. Westermann. Goin’ Home, conceived as a kaleidoscope to shed light on a maverick account of post-war American art. Regarded as an artists’ artist, Westermann married the critical commitment of sculptors and painters schooled in Chicago — he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago himself on two occasions — with the iconoclastic visions of East Coast Funk Art sculptures. In Westermann there is the concurrence of physical object art, reminiscent of Pop’s most countercultural side, and the representation of an irrational America with a biting sense of humour; yet, despite his relationship with different movements, Westermann’s sculptures and drawings are fiercely unique and characterised by reflections on living, the construction of anti-monuments and a scrutiny of death.

The workshop comprises three sessions, the first conducted by the exhibition’s curator Beatriz Velázquez, the second by artist Carlos Fernández-Pello, and the third by art historian Patricia Mayayo, each of whom will pose questions that evoke the work of H. C. Westermann through the specific nature of their own disciplines.

These sessions are pitched at anyone interested in art as a process of knowledge from multiple perspectives: writing, artistic practice, curatorship, education and thought.

Participants

Manuel Cámara studied civil engineering, and is a specialist on Martin Heidegger’s work and H. C. Westermann’s oeuvre, examining the intersections between living and constructing in the artist’s work.    

Carlos Fernández-Pello is an artist, designer and professor at IED Madrid. He combines his artistic practice with curating, audiovisual production, writing and DIY, and, through the object, his work focuses on a broad range of speculative and epistemological interests.

Patricia Mayayo is head professor of Art History at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM). Her research encompasses and crosses different fields of work: women’s history, feminist and queer historiography, and the study of contemporary artistic practices.

Beatriz Velázquez is the curator of the exhibition H. C. Westermann. Goin’ Home. After her initial studies in engineering, she studied the MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies at Columbia University (New York) and the MA in Contemporary Art History and Visual Culture run by the Museo Reina Sofía, where she currently forms part of the Exhibitions Department.


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Program

H.C. Westermann. Burning House, 1958

Thursday, 7 March 2019 – from 10am to 1pm

Making a Home

Beatriz Velázquez

Admission: free, with prior registration by filling out this form
Capacity: 25 people

Exploring the work of an artist inevitably branches out into investigations which are broader in scope. Thus, studying the work of H. C. Westermann as a historian opens out into observing how his truly singular work was considered on a landscape crackling with change: Westermann, for instance, was seen as one of the imaginists of a new realism, and among those who left behind the specificity of formalism. If we look through another lens to analyse Westermann’s sculptural processes, we see how his pieces objectively endowed the unarticulated realm of experience. Finally, in examining the content of his works, the unfinished in all shelter can be heard in its persistence; that which, in a broader formulation, invites thinking about creation as making a home.

In a collaboration with Manuel Cámara, a specialist in Martin Heidegger’s work, this session will survey the construction of the retrospective, interlacing the different aspects of the study of H. C. Westermann with the final factor at play: its mise en scène in the rooms of the Museo Reina Sofía.   

H.C. Westermann. A Piece from the Museum of Shattered Dreams, 1965

Thursday, 14 and Friday, 15 March 2019 – from 10am to 1pm

Apparently Irrelevant. Or When the Spectator Is Embodied Through A Piece of Furniture

Carlos Fernández-Pello

Admission: free, with prior registration by filling out this form
Capacity: 25 people

Setting out from a challenge to the notion of object art in H. C. Westermann’s work, this two-day session explores the gallery bench as a seemingly irrelevant piece of furniture which, however, permits rest, interruption and discontinuation from the ergonomics of the art object. The bench first appeared as urban furniture in Paris halfway through the 19th century, in Barón Haussmann’s urban planning, forever linking the history of public seating to recreation management. Yet in a gallery context, the value of use of both furniture and artworks would be somewhat confused until the turn of the 20th century: spectators could move chairs and tables and paintings and sculptures, accommodating their physical and aesthetic needs. This logic was even upheld in the first museums, until the role of educating the general public called for a sequenced narrative and efficient and fluid itinerary, where the seat was an impediment or, rather, an official symbol of rest.

H.C. Westermann. Korea, 1965

Friday, 22 March 2019 – from 10am to 1pm

H. C. Westermann and the Construction of Post-War Masculinity

Patricia Mayayo

Admission: free, with prior registration by filling out this form
Capacity: 25 people

In many of his pieces, H. C. Westermann, who served in the Second World War and the Korean War, cast an erroneous view of the masculinity that should be framed inside the changes experienced in post-war relationships and gender codes in the USA. Accustomed to a heroic narrative running through the art from that time, with its overt manifestations of implacable masculine genius in a sequence of major art movements, from Abstract Expressionism to Conceptual Art, Westermann’s work stood in a contrary position, in a space that questioned masculinity. This session is thus split into two parts: the first is a theoretical exposition, the second a practical workshop with a collective discussion and analysis of chapters 1, 2 and 6 from Beatriz Preciado’s book Pornotopía. Arquitectura y sexualidad en Playboy durante la guerra fría (Pornotopia. Playboy Architecture and Sexuality During the Cold War, Anagrama, 2010). 

Free admission prior registration

  • Duration: 3 hours on each day
  • Organized by: Museo Reina Sofía
  • Capacity:

    25 people

    Registration:

    By filling out this form

    Educational program sponsored by Banco Santander Foundation