Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s

Event Date: 
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Free Event
Art Exhibit

February 13–15
On view 6:30–9:00 PM
Exhibition special hours 6:30–9:00 PM

“…the 30-year-old projection appears to me today strangely familiar and at once unbearably relevant. More than ever before, the meaning of our monuments depends on our active role in turning them into sites of memory and critical evaluation of history as well as places of public discourse and action.”
– Krzystof Wodiczko

In celebration of the opening of Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will present a three-night restaging of Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988–2000, the iconic, large-scale outdoor projection by acclaimed artist Krzysztof Wodiczko (b. Warsaw, Poland, 1943). The work will be shown for the first time since it premiered thirty years ago.

On February 13–15, the projection and the nearly 150 works in Brand New will be viewable during special evening hours, 6:30–9:00 PM.

One of the most significant public artworks of the 1980s, the celebrated installation first debuted to DC audiences over three nights in October 1988. Commissioned by the Hirshhorn and created by Wodiczko specifically for its uniquely curved building, the projection debuted as part of the Museum’s “WORKS” program, which ran from 1987–1993 and featured a series of temporary, site-specific exhibitions by artists such as Sol LeWitt, Ann Hamilton, Matt Mullican, and Alfredo Jaar.

The 68-foot projection spans the building’s three stories and features symbolic images that speak powerfully to socio-political issues of both the 1980s and present-day. While referring to such widespread debates as political rhetoric, reproductive rights, and the death penalty, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988–2000 also alludes to the power of mass media to convey ideologies.

Wodiczko was at the forefront of a new interest in public art, and his Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988–2000 reflected the increased political awareness in the art of the 1980s. Borrowing tactics from film and advertising, Wodiczko used recognizable imagery on a massive scale—body parts, figures, guns, and money—to elicit reactions in his viewers.

A Polish-born American artist, Wodiczko is renowned for his large-scale projections that address such themes as war, conflict, trauma, and memory. By using the façades of buildings and monuments as backdrops for his work, Wodiczko interrogates the construction of collective memory and history while reconsidering the meaning of public space. In a career spanning four decades, he has realized more than 80 of these public projects all around the world. Wodiczko is currently Professor in Residence of Art, Design and the Public Domain at Harvard University.