Monday, September 24, 2012




No Time Left to Start Again/The B and D of R 'n' R on View in the Modern Wing
September 21, 2012 through January 6, 2013

The music of 20th-century America--folk, gospel, blues, and rock 'n' roll--can be seen, heard, and researched this fall in the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing with an innovative installation by veteran artist Allen Ruppersberg, who has navigated a distinctive and singular path through contemporary art for more than four decades. No Time Left to Start Again/The B and D of R 'n' R is Ruppersberg's most complex work in nearly 20 years. Across 200 feet of pegboard hung with hundreds of photocopied snapshots, record covers, and other materials, the captivating survey--from blues singers of the early 1900s through guitarists of the 1960s--is presented in the Carolyn S. and Matthew Bucksbaum Gallery (Gallery 188) of the Modern Wing from September 21, 2012 through January 6, 2013. It is the first large-scale work by Ruppersberg ever to be seen in Chicago and a long overdue opportunity to encounter the work of one of the country's most influential artists.

No Time Left to Start Again/The B and D of R 'n' R draws on Ruppersberg's career-long engagement with popular culture in books and magazines, photographs, and music. In a massive effort, the artist has spent more than three years collecting thousands of vinyl records and music-related amateur snapshots, adding these finds to a set of obituaries for musicians that he has been culling for more than 20 years. Scanned, printed out, and laminated, these nostalgia-laden materials are hung on pegboards arranged in five sections, each 32 feet long. The pegboards, and cardboard boxes that are dispersed in front of them on the floor, are all silkscreened in vibrant colors with either pennants or bulls-eyes, and marked with enigmatically arranged stock phrases, concluding with one that balances between cynicism and hope: "And the Race Goes On and On."

Four of the five sections in No Time Left to Start Again treat music lyrics ("An Understanding And Appreciation of Poetry"); music in the home ("You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone") and church ("White As Snow"); and the rise of rock 'n' roll ("Fun, Fun, Fun"). The first, introductory section, located directly outside the space, contains elements of all the others. As Ruppersberg describes his vast work: "No Time Left to Start Again is a sort of giant, deluxe walk-in boxed set of one possible history of Rock and Roll. But, it could also be the museum exhibition of a passionate collector or some kind of expanded archival display...or many other possibilities, including a work of art." To facilitate an understanding of this archive, a couch and two reading stations hold binders with many of the laminated pages for individual perusal. An iPad, meanwhile, allows visitors to listen to any of the more than 125 songs remastered and re-recorded by Ruppersberg, in a set of eight albums that he has designed, produced, and also included in the installation.

Raised in suburban Cleveland and enamored with animation and commercial art since a childhood visit to Disneyland, Allen Ruppersberg (born 1944) graduated from Chouinard Art Institute (now the California Institute of the Arts) in 1967. After a brief stint as a painter, Ruppersberg soon turned to the material of everyday commercial and vernacular life. A pioneer of Conceptual Art, Ruppersberg cooked food for visitors to his café (1969); rented and ran a hotel for one year (Al's Grand Hotel , 1971); and developed uses of text and recycled imagery in the 1970s that foretold the return of narrative in contemporary art, as well as the rise of appropriation and postmodernist strategies. As an artist and a teacher, Ruppersberg has influenced artists working with the American vernacular such as Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, and Rachel Harrison.

For many years an "artist's artist," Ruppersberg has gained renewed acclaim recently with his participation in museum exhibitions such as In and Out of Amsterdam (2009) and, earlier this year, Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964-1977 , at the Art Institute. He is currently finishing a prestigious one-year term as United States Artist Fellow. This is his first solo museum exhibition since You and Me or the Art of Give and Take, at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (2009).

Allen Ruppersberg: No Time Left to Start Again/The B and D of R 'n' R is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and curated by Matthew S. Witkovsky, Richard and Ellen Sandor Chair and Curator, Department of Photography at the Art Institute. This exhibition is generously supported by the David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation and the Auxiliary Board of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Image: Allen Ruppersberg. No Time Left to Start Again: The B and D of R 'n' R (detail showing one of five sections), 2010-2012. Courtesy of the artist and Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles

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