Guest Curated by Jordan Stein
Ken Price, Doola, 2011
September 22 – November 30, 2012
Ken Price’s kaleidoscopic sculptures are all lump and curve, the antithesis of the clean lines and spare aesthetic of Philip Johnson’s Glass House. But Price and Johnson both shared a preoccupation with the architecture of transparency.
In the late 1990’s, Price began applying countless coats of paint to his ceramic forms before meticulously hand-sanding their surfaces in tiny, irregular ovals. Like an archaeological dig, his technique revealed a glimpse into the past, uncovering multi-colored layers of paint along the way.
Johnson, too, sought to look through surfaces, but where the sculptor looked inwards, the architect looked out. If Johnson’s glass offers a clear view through space, Price’s clay offers a clear view through time.
In the end, little is known about why Giacometti’s walking man never made it back to New Canaan. Stepping into the shadow of that decades-old mystery, Doola can’t provide any answers. But its sausage factory waves can speak to the rounded edges of history and the nature of what’s left behind.
Philip Johnson’s partner, David Whitney, was an avid collector and presenter of Price’s work, mounting the artist’s first solo New York exhibition at his gallery in 1971. Twenty years later, he curated Price’s first retrospective at the Menil Collection in Houston and the two remained close until Whitney’s untimely death in 2005, just six months after Johnson.
Ken Price passed away at his home in Taos, New Mexico in February 2012 at age 77. Doola is among the last works he created and has never before been shown. Between Johnson’s reflective walls, it works like a perfectly constructed echo; simultaneously a debut, a reunion, and a replacement.