Catherine Grenier Abracadabra

ISBN 13: 9781854372949

Abracadabra

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This publication brings together the work of 15 young international artists in an exploration of the spirit of fantasy. It accompanies the Abracabadra exhibition at the Tate Gallery in the summer of 1999.

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First Sensation, Saatchi's groundbreaking show of young British artists, then Matthew Collings' book and television show This is Modern Art have confirmed what many people have realised for a long time: modern art, with all its shocks, jokes and blankness, is here to stay. If further evidence were needed, look no further than Abracadabra: International Contemporary Art, edited by Catherine Grenier and Catherine Kinley. This lavishly illustrated catalogue has been published by London's Tate Gallery to accompany its 1999 summer exhibition of 15 of the finest young artists currently working in a variety of media from installation, ready-mades, video and performance to the more traditional forms of drawing and sculpture.

The refreshingly brief and unpretentious introductory essays point out that the show, like its title, explores the fantastic, the changeable and the magical. Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen points out that the exhibition "approaches the flexible spirit of 1990s art from the co-ordinates of 'art-reality- fantasy'. The playful character of the art is echoed in the design of the exhibition space--an open environment in which visitors are free to wander around at will, as if in an amusement arcade or shopping complex, able to pick and choose from the range of entertainments vying for their attention". The catalogue emphasises that there are many entertainments awaiting the visitor, including Maurizio Cattelan's Stadium, a table-football game designed for two teams of eleven, and Brigitte Zieger's self-assembly assault rifles laid out in Playtime. This is a terrifically upbeat show which embraces the viewer without pomposity or pretentiousness. It is playful and forward-looking whilst also retaining the edge of social and political commentary making the show all the more effective. Cattelan's work stands out as exemplifying the best in current installation art, from his ominous horse hanging like the sword of Damocles over the entire show to the terrifying yet knowing Charlie don't surf, and the funny yet also shocking dead squirrel slumped at a kitchen table, used revolver at its feet. Now that's magic! --Jerry Brotton

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Grenier, Catherine & Kinley, Catherine
Published by Tate Gallery Publishing, London (1999)
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