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An Ongoing Low-Grade Mystery
An Ongoing Low-Grade Mystery
An Ongoing Low-Grade Mystery
An Ongoing Low-Grade Mystery

Press Release

A Brief History of this Exhibition and the Ones Which Came Before

In June of 1986 I organized an exhibition for Massimo Audiello Gallery, then located on East 11th Street in the East Village. The show was titled simply, Red, and all the works in the show were red. Among the participating artists: David Diao, Christian Eckart, Marcia Hafif, Donald Judd, Allan McCollum, Olivier Mosset, Steven Parrino, Phil Sims, Haim Steinbach, Philip Taaffe, Frederic Thursz, and Stephen Westfall. The show had been prompted by conversations with Olivier Mosset about the monochrome, as well as by the comical descriptions of one-color paintings in Arthur Danto’s, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace.

Three years later, in 1989, I was asked to revisit this show as a specific room at Le Consortium in Dijon, France, to be seen within the larger context of the exhibition, Une Autre Affaire. As a result of that presentation, I was asked to organize an expanded version for Galerie Isy Brachot in Brussels in 1990, and for the first time a catalogue was published. The list of artists grew to include, among others, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Peter Halley, Yves Klein, Imi Knoebel, Ken Lum, Laurie Parsons, Wallace & Donohue, and Lawrence Weiner.

In 1998, when Le Consortium exhibited its collection at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the “red room” was re-created without my direct participation. Many of the artists who had taken part in previous incarnations of the exhibition were included, although their works were hung on top of a Daniel Buren installation which covered the walls of the room. My sense of the show is that it only ever makes sense within the so-called white cube.

Since then, I have had it in mind to organize one last Red show, to bring it back to New York, returning full circle twenty years after the fact. The title, An Ongoing Low-Grade Mystery, refers specifically to the history of this exhibition and to its logical conclusion. The title, rather than referring to any individual works, refers directly to my passage through art, my travels and detours, from 1986 to 2006. At the time of the very first show, I offered the following notes.

All of the work in this show is red, but the color does not serve as its theme. Indeed, in a room filled with red paintings and objects, nothing may look red at all. The color, then, is a mask which enables work to be presented in what might otherwise be an improbable situation (and for some this may still be problematic). Nevertheless, the work is not at the service of anything resembling a fixed curatorial mind. The work is neither spoken for nor contextualized. It does not function as illustrational material. And these remarks, no matter how seemingly casual or brief, are non-transferable and may not be taken at face value.

A final note. Many years ago, reading a short story by Donald Barthelme, I was struck by a passage in which someone goes into a gallery and discovers that all the works are the same color. Barthelme’s title for the show? An Ongoing Low-Grade Mystery.

– Bob Nickas

Artists include: Richard Aldrich, John M Armleder, Robert Barry, Lisa Beck, Gil Blank, Carol Bove, Matthew Brannon, Jeff Davis, Trisha Donnelly, Jim Drain, William Eggleston, Jason Fox, Wayne Gonzales, Guyton\Walker, Donald Judd, Jutta Koether, Yayoi Kusama, Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, Ari Marcopoulos, Allan McCollum, Olivier Mosset, Steven Parrino, Ann Pibal, Michael Scott, Nancy Shaver Vincent Szarek, Wolfgang Tillmans, John Tremblay, Alan Uglow, Dan Walsh

For more information, please contact the gallery: (212) 255-1105 or