Luis Camnitzer:
Retrospective Exhibition
1966-1990

Essay—Moral Imperatives: Politics as Art in Luis Camnitzer by Mari Carmen Ramírez
Essay—Politics and Ethnicity in the Work of Luis Camnitzer by Gerardo Mosquera
Statement—Manifesto, 1982 by Luis Camnitzer
Essay—Access to the Mainstream by Luis Camnitzer

Essay—Wonderbread and Spanglish Art by Luis Camnitzer
Essay—The Idea of the Moral Imperative in Contemporary Art by Luis Camnitzer
Chronology by Luis Camnitzer
Notes and Bibilography

 

Acknowledgments

An exhibition of this scope could not have happened without the efforts and assistance of many individuals and institutions. The Lehman College Art Gallery would like to extend special thanks to all, beginning with the artist, Luis Camnitzer, for allowing us to present his visual and written works. The gallery is also indebted to Dr. Mari Carmen Ramirez and Gerardo Mosquera for their insightful essays on Luis Camnitzer's work. Further thanks are offered to: Selby Hickey; Dr. Ricardo R. Fernandez; Louis Shaw and Nexus Contemporary Art Center; Robert Thurmer and Cleveland State University; Charles Merewether; Lasse Antonssen; Jeannette Ingberman; Yeshiva University Art Museum; Janice Rooney; Joseph Montague; Kathy Duncan; Walter Krochmal; Dr. Emita B. Hill; Nancy Cooper; George Corbin; Nina Sundell; Susan Hoeltzel; Mary Ann Siano; Renato Leonel; Anne Perryman; Michelle Forsten; Julio Cruz Aldano; Daniel Shure; Lenny Weisberger; Mark Todd; Virginia Cupiola; Kathleen Lefkowitz; Alicia Ponce; Leandros Papathanasiou and Athens Printing; The New Art Examiner; and the trustees, docents and volunteers of The Lehman College Art Gallery.

This exhibition was made possible by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. Further support for this exhibition and for the Gallery's education programs was provided by: the Robert Lehman Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation; The Department of Cultual Affairs in cooperation with the Bronx Borough President's Office; Friends of the Lehman College Art Gallery; the Aaron Diamond Foundation through the N.Y.C. Board of Education; Citibank; the Bronx Council on the Arts; and the Herbert and Edith Lehman Foundation. The Lehman College Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the support of all.

Luis Camnitzer and The Lehman College Art Gallery also wish to express appreciation to Art Matters, Inc. for sponsoring Mr. Camnitzer to create a special, limited edition artwork of fifty hand-altered, "censored" versions of this catalogue.

Art and Politics, 1990

Introduction

 

Luis Camnitzer was born in Germany and grew up in Uruguay and is a citizen of that country; he has lived in the United States for over twenty years. Like his life, his art is grounded in three continents and reflects his transcultural experience. For Camnitzer, political awareness is crucial to understanding one's environment and making strategies for ethnicallybased actions. Art is his instrument of choice to implement those strategies. Conceptual in nature, his work is powerful and evocative; it is often humorous, and sometimes deeply disturbed Always, he challenges and implicates the viewer.

Latin American and European viewers have opportunities to see major exhibitions of Camnizer's work in a 1986 traveling retrospective organized by the Museo de Plasticas in Montevideo, and at exhibitions at Museum Wiesbaden (1980) and the Venice Biennale (1988). However, it is possible that he is more widely known in North America through his writings than for his art works. He has produced some of the most cogent pieces about the "mainstream" and "marginal" artworlds published in recent years, and several of these are included in this catalogue. The Lehman College Art Gallery is pleased to present this overview of Luis Camnitzer's work to North American audiences in this, his first retrospective in the United States.

Several of the titles of Luis Camnitzer's works, such as They Found that Reality Had Intruded Upon the Image, and Art and Politics, came to seem prophetically apt during the organization of this exhibition this past year. 1990 was a turbulent year for the arts in the United States. A museum director and members of a musical rap group were arrested, tried and acquitted; and at the National Endowment for the Arts, grant recipients were obliged to sign a pledge agreeing to abide by the Helms amendment. This retrospective exhibit was selected by the NEA Museum Program to receive an award of fifteen thousand dollars. While it was gratifying to be been selected to receive one of these extremely competitive grants, The Lehman College Art Gallery board and staff, together with Luis Camnitzer, decided the Gallery should not sign this restrictive pledge. All shared in this resolve; but it was Luis, in his eloquent statements, who best articulated for us the fact that artistic freedom is priceless. His actions and words were in keeping with the conviction and passion encompassed his works from the past quarter century, as evidenced in this exhibition. As this catalogue goes to press, Federal District Judge John G. Davies has just rendered a decision that the restrictive "anti-obscenity" pledge is unconstitutional. We celebrate this ruling along with the opportunity to present this most important retrospective of works by Luis Camnitzer.

Jane Farver
Director

 

 

The Discovery of Geometry, 1978

Exhibition Checklist

1966

6 sentences describing visual situations,
chromed steel, 2 x 2 x 2 inches. (250 meters of
thick chain; four bridges; a straight thick line, a
ten story building; a prismatic beam; a sur-
rounded space...)


l966-67

Series of six drawings made by a child
under hypnosis, illustrating descriptions of visual situ-
ations. Ink on paper, 10 x 10 inches.

Adhesive labels for mail exhibition of The New
York Graphic Workshop.

Rubber Stamps, aluminum on wood and rubber
stamps, 18 x 24 inches. (remade in 1990).

l966-68

This is a mirror, you are a written sentence.
Vacuum formed styrene, 18 x 24 inches.

l967

Telescope, engraved glass, 4 x 16 x 2 1/4
inches. (remade in 1990).

Envelope, portfolio of ten etchings and rubber
stamp titles, 17 x 14 inches. Edition 100, The
New York Graphic Workshop.

Fragment of a Cloud, stencil on cotton wool, 13
1/2 x 19 1/2 inches. Edition 100, Pratt Graphics
Center.

l968

Horizon, etching, 26 x 25 inches, ed 50.

Che, etching, 26 x 25 inches, ed. 50

Landscape/Portrait, etching, 26 x 25 inches,
ed. 50.


Petition, etching and pencil, 26 x 25 inches, ed. 50.
Selfportrait, etching, 26 x 25 inches, ed. 50.
Living Room, maquette for an installation, off-
set, 5 1/2 x 11 x 14. Edition 100, The New
York Graphic Workshop.

Bricks, maquette for an installation, photo-
graphs, 5 1/2 x 11 x 14.

Leftovers, adhesive labels placed at random to
change the context of everyday objects.

l968-69

Third Degree Burn, stenciled burn on paper,
26 x 25 inches, ed. 50.

l969

Dictionary, Page 1, etching, 26 x 25 inches,
ed. 50.


Dictionary, Page 2, etching, 26 x 25 inches,
ed. 50.

Topological Change of a Word Sequence, ball
point and acrylic on stacked index cards, 6 x 10
x 9 inches. (remade in 1990).


Four mail exhibits from the Instituto Di Tella,
Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Isoword Lines, ink on paper, 11 x 14 inches.
(remade in 1990).

1969-70

Constellations, 8 silkscreen prints, 20 x 22
inches. Edition 10 The New York Graphic
Workshop.

1969-90

Living Room, fragment of an installation origi-
nally exhibited in the Museo de Bellas Artes of
Caracas, Venezuela, photocopied words.

Massacre of Puerto Montt, fragment of an in-
stallation originally exhibited in the Museo de
Bellas Artes of Santiago de Chile, photocopied
words.


1970

Leftovers, installation of 80 bandaged boxes,
(200 were originally exhibited in the Paula
Cooper Gallery.) Loaned by the Yeshiva Uni-
versity Museum Collection New York. Card-
board boxes, surgical bandage and dye, 12 x 24
x 12 inches each.


Execution, broken mirror with engraved text
and epoxy, 14 inches diameter, ed. 10.

Common Grave, engraved aluminum, 24 x 28
inches. Loaned by the Yeshiva University Mu-
seum Collection, New York.

Content, 2 Clouds, etching, 26 x 25 inches, ed.
50.

Content, 1Jeep, etching, 26 x 25 inches, ed. 50.

Content, 1 Wall, etching, 26 x 25 inches, ed. 50.

Cambodia, silkscreen, 22 x 30 inches, ed. 10.

1971

Three Heads, silkscreen, 22 x 30 inches, ed. 10.

Mail Drawing, package remailed to describe a
trajectory, 16 x 20 x 1 1/2 inches.

Original Rubbing and Its Copies, 11 x 16
inches, pencil rubbing on paper.

Signature by the Inch, silkscreen and pencil,
22 x 30 inches, full signature on English form.

1971-73

Signature by the Inch, silkscreen and pencil,
22 x 30 inches, fragment on Spanish form.

1972

A Text Printed Twice On Canvas, silkscreen and
cut out on canvas, 20 x 40 inches, ed. 2.

The Socialization of a Work of Art, series of
laminated photographs, 8 x 10 inches, of an
installation originally done in Piazza San
Michele, Lucca, Italy.

Bottle, pencil rubbing on paper, 11 x 14 inches.

1972-74

Perimeter, brass, glass and wood, 14 x 10 x 2
inches.


1972-90
Original Mural, acrylic and pencil on wall.
Fragment of an installation originally exhibited
in Galleria Diagramma, Milan, Italy.

1973

Moebius Strip, engraved aluminum plates,
28 x 28 inches.

Crushed Coca-Cola Bottle, glass in glass bottle.

Time-Distance, brass, glass, wood and compass,
14 x 10 x 2 inches.


The Invasion of the Days in the Days, 16 calen
dar pages, collage, 2 7/8 x 40 inches.

Three Objects, aluminum and brass, 10 x 24
inches.

A that Covers the Word that Names it, five
engraved brass plates, 8 x 10 inches each.
Painting with Titles, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 40
inches.


1973-74

Branch of an Oak Tree, brass, glass, wood and
molded pine sawdust with plastic resin, 14 x 10
x 2 inches.


1974

Dottie Attie, collaboration with Ray Johnson,
brass, glass, wood and laminated drawing,
14 x 10 x 2 inches.

Piece of Glass or Plastic..., brass, glass or plas-
tic and wood, 14 x 10 x 2 inches.

Borderline, brass, etched glass and wood,
15 1/2 x 10 x 2 inches.

1975

Drawing by Picasso in a Single Line, brass,
glass, wood and thread, 14 x 10 x 2 inches.

The Book of Wishful Thoughts and Realities,
brass, glass, wood and laminated photograph,
14 x 10 x 2 inches.


1975-78

Sifter, (a mechanism for killing undesirable
spectators) floor and wall installation, brass
wooden base with carpet and electric cable,
13 x 10 inches and 2 x 20 x 13 inches. (remade
in 1990)

The Infinite Rays of the Sun, photoetched brass
8 x 10 inches.


1976

Transmutation of Paint into Aluminum, brass,
glass, wood and cut out aluminum, 14 x 10
x 2 inches.

Two Parallel Lines, installation originally ex-
hibited in the Alternative Center for Interna-
tional Arts (now Alternative Museum) in N.Y.

The Tool and if its Work, pencil and pencil draw-
ing on wall.

Silence/Repression, ink on paper, 22 x 30
inches.


Stamp, brass and silkscreen, 1 x 2 inches.

1977-78

The Craftsmanship of Landscape, etching,
30 x 22 inches, ed. 50.


1978

The Discovery of Geometry, etching, 30 x 22
inches, ed. 50.

The Threat of the Mirror, two facing plaques,
brass, photograph and mirror, 10 x 8 inches.

Victim's View, brass, glass, wood and laminated
photograph, 14 x 10 x 2 inches.

The Form Generating the Content, brass, glass
and wood, 7 x 10 x 2 inches.

Italian Rivers, epoxy and photoetched brass, 10
x 8 inches.


1979

Landscape as an Attitude, laminated photo-
graph, 11 x 14 inches.

Twelve Pages, installation with candle, lamp-
black and pencil, 38 x 36 x 1 inches, originally
exhibited in Galeria San Diego, Bogota, Colom-
bia. Collection John Crawley, Bogota.

Arbitrary Objects and their Titles wall installa-
tion with found objects and pencil, 30 x 50
inches.

The Path, tiles and pencil, 180 x 36 inches.

The Archaeology of a Spell, installation with
mixed materials, 72 x 100 x 48 inches.

The Reenactment of an Inquiry, photoetching,
30 x 22 inches, ed. 50.


1980

The Superstition of Reality, brass, glass and
wood, 14 x 10 x 2 inches.

Fragments of a Novel, installation of 13 pieces
in mixed materials and media, ca. 20 x 100 x
2 inches.


The Optics Lesson, wall installation with lami-
nated photograph, bulb, candle and pencil draw-
ing, 30 x 80 inches.

Painting under Hypnosis, 16 laminated sheets
with photographs and text of the process, 11 x
8 1/2 inches and one 11 x 14 inches.

Questions and Answers under Hypnosis, 10
laminated photographs, 14 x 11 inches.


1981

German Signature Street Sign, enamel on metal,
6 x 24 inches.


Two Identical Objects, dollar and newsprint, 3 x
8 x 2 inches.

The Photograph, laminated photograph, 11 x 14
inches.


1982

The Reflection of Blasphemy, four color photo-
etching, 30 x 22 inches, ed. 15.

The Shadow of the Horizon, four color photo-
etching, 30 x 22 inches, ed. 15.

1983

Lego Architecture, set of eight photomontages,
8 x 12 inches.


1983-84

From the Uruguayan Torture, four etchings
from a set of 35 four color photoetchings, 30
x 22 inches, ed. 15.

1984

From the Uruguayan Torture, wall installation
with mixed objects, 12 x 90 inches.


1984-86

Agent Orange Series, four etchings from a set
of 50 four color photoetchings, 30 x 22 inches,
ed. 15.

1985-86

Fabrication Sustained Memory, ( 1988 Venice
Biennale), aluminum, glass, plastic flowers and
wood, 72 x 30 x 8 inches.

1986

He Organized Things as He Saw Them (1988
Venice Biennale), dish and resin, 25 x 15 x 15
inches.


Any Image Was to Be Cherished Under the Cir-
cumstances,
(1988 Venice Biennale) bronze
chair, frame and bulb, 80 x 36 x 36 inches.

They Found That Reality Had Intruded Upon
the Image,
(1988 Venice Biennale), poster and
wood, 1 x 22 x 30 inches.

The House Was a Fiction..., (1988 Venice Bien-
nale), framed five color photoetching, mezzotint
and softground, 36 x 28 inches.

Objects Were Covered by Their Own Image,
(1988 Venice Biennale), wood and paper, 30 x
20 x 20 inches.

1987

Reflections Occurred Selectively, (1988 Venice
Biennale), frame, glass and bulb, 12 x 12 x 5
inches.

Untitled, (1988 Venice Biennale), marble, brass,
astroturf and photoemulsion on newsprint, frag-
ment of a 200 x 240 inch installation.

1988

Dollar Shelf, wood and mud, 8 x 30 x 5 inches.
Collection of Jeanette Ingberman, N.Y.

The Cake (from the Zanoobia Series), styro-
foam and shaving instruments, 4 x 8 x 8 inches.

The Souvenirs (from the Zanoobia Series), soap
dish, sheepskin and objects, 5 x 4 x 4 inches.

The Coffee Cup, (from the Zanoobia Series),
cup and dried coffee.

1989

Reality as a Temporary Setup, wall installation
with etched glass and binges, 120 x 80 x 10
inches.

Knock Knock, Who Is There, fax machine,
brass, wood, mud, glass and toy receiver, 18 x
24 x 18 inches.

1990

The Laments of Exile, laminated photograph
and astroturf, 18 x 24 inches.

Tienanmen, brass and epoxy, 5 x 8 inches.

Captain Riley (from the San Patricio Series),
graphic wall installation, photoetchings, 45 x
38 inches. Edition IS, University of Texas at
Austin.

Art and Politics, photograph, 12 1/2 x 11
inches.