Research

Jim Hodges

Jim Hodges (b. 1957) is an American contemporary artist based in New York, NY. I loved his work at Barbara Gladstone (both locations) a few months ago, as well as at SFMOMA and Marc Foxx Galleryin LA in the past. His materials (including mirrors and lightbulbs), and themes (happiness) overlap with those in my work. I am finally getting around to doing more research about him.

The more I learn, the more it seems that I’ve been following in Hodge’s footsteps.

What I admire most about Hodges’ work is this: simple gestures generating expansive imports. In other words, 1 + 1 = 3. When two recognizable things or ideas combine for an unexpected outcome, it’s startling.

Hodge’s work can be luminous or colorful, and suggestive of pleasure or happiness, but it is also characterized by themes of death and fragility. The feeling of loss made sense when I learned that Hodges was a contemporary and friend of Felix Gonzales-Torres. I was also reminded of how Tom Friedman experiments with common materials too.

Below are some photos found online, and some scanned in from an exhibition catalog. I think the dates of the works are quite telling about the artist’s development.

Past Installations

I suspect that Hodge’s fake flower projects started with simple material investigations: taking apart ready-made flowers, arranging and re-arranging them, which culminates in monumentally-scaled curtains that drape on the floor.

Jim Hodges, Untitled (Threshold), 1993–4, silk, plastic, thread, steel wire, 92x58 inches. The Ann and Mel Schaffer Family Collection. Source: Hodges, Jim, Ian Berry, Ron Platt, and Allan Schwartzman. 2003. Jim Hodges. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

Jim Hodges, Untitled (Threshold), 1993–4, silk, plastic, thread, steel wire, 92x58 inches. The Ann and Mel Schaffer Family Collection. Source: Hodges, Jim, Ian Berry, Ron Platt, and Allan Schwartzman. 2003. Jim Hodges. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

Jim Hodges, Changing things (detail), 1997, Silk, plastic, wire and pins (342 parts), 193 x 376 cm, Dallas Museum of Art, Mary Margaret Munson Wilcox Fund and gift of Catherine and Will Rose, Howard Rachofsky, Christopher Drew and Alexandra May, and Martin Posner and Robyn Menter-Posner, © martabuso / Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, From the exhibition Love, eccetera, Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, 5 February-5 April 2010, Piazza San Marco Gallery, Venezia. Source: ArtTattler.com.

Jim Hodges, Changing things (detail), 1997, Silk, plastic, wire and pins (342 parts), 193 x 376 cm, Dallas Museum of Art, Mary Margaret Munson Wilcox Fund and gift of Catherine and Will Rose, Howard Rachofsky, Christopher Drew and Alexandra May, and Martin Posner and Robyn Menter-Posner, © martabuso / Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, From the exhibition Love, eccetera, Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, 5 February-5 April 2010, Piazza San Marco Gallery, Venezia. Source: ArtTattler.com.

A massive curtain composed completely of fake flowers. It’s super colorful and translucent in person. It’s also very difficult to resist touching. Sometimes I think contemporary art is afraid of sentiment, but this work wholly embraces joy. Very pop.

Jim Hodges, No Betweens, 1996; sculpture; silk, cotton, polyester, and thread, 360 in. x 324 in. (914.4 cm x 822.96 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through a gift of Kimberly S. Light; © Jim Hodges  Source: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Jim Hodges, No Betweens, 1996; sculpture; silk, cotton, polyester, and thread, 360 in. x 324 in. (914.4 cm x 822.96 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through a gift of Kimberly S. Light; © Jim Hodges Source: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Jim Hodges, Where are we now? (detail), 1999, silk, cotton, polyester, and thread, 24x18 feet, installation view at Miami Art Museum, Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz Collection. Source: Hodges, Jim, Ian Berry, Ron Platt, and Allan Schwartzman. 2003. Jim Hodges. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

Jim Hodges, Where are we now? (detail), 1999, silk, cotton, polyester, and thread, 24x18 feet, installation view at Miami Art Museum, Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz Collection. Source: Hodges, Jim, Ian Berry, Ron Platt, and Allan Schwartzman. 2003. Jim Hodges. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

Here’s a curious black version.

Jim Hodges, The end from where you are, 1998, Silk, cotton, polyester, and thread, 16 x 16'. Source: ArtTattler.com.

Jim Hodges, The end from where you are, 1998, Silk, cotton, polyester, and thread, 16 x 16'. Source: ArtTattler.com.

Jim Hodges, Into Life, 2001  Silk, cotton, polyester and thread; dimensions variable. Source: GladstoneGallery.com.

Jim Hodges, Into Life, 2001 Silk, cotton, polyester and thread; dimensions variable. Source: GladstoneGallery.com.

 

I’ve been sewing and thinking about flags a lot, so here’s one more instance of serendipity.

Jim Hodges, Here's Where We Will Stay  printed nylon, painted chiffon and silk head scarves with thread, embroidery and sequins 230 x 225 in. (584.2 x 571.5 cm.) 1995. Source: Christies.com.

Jim Hodges, Here's Where We Will Stay printed nylon, painted chiffon and silk head scarves with thread, embroidery and sequins 230 x 225 in. (584.2 x 571.5 cm.) 1995. Source: Christies.com.

Immersive gold leaf.

Jim Hodges and still this 2005-2008 23.5K and 24K gold with Beva on gessoed linen in 10 parts 200" x 185" x 89". Source: JamesWagner.com.

Jim Hodges and still this 2005-2008 23.5K and 24K gold with Beva on gessoed linen in 10 parts 200" x 185" x 89". Source: JamesWagner.com.

2.5-D
(Works that are not quite 2-D or 3-D)

Jim Hodges, Folding (into a Greater World), 1998 Mirror on canvas in two parts 72 x 96 inches Collection of Eileen and Peter Norton, Santa Monica. Source: ArtLies.org.

Jim Hodges, Folding (into a Greater World), 1998 Mirror on canvas in two parts 72 x 96 inches Collection of Eileen and Peter Norton, Santa Monica. Source: ArtLies.org.

Jim Hodges, Movements (stage II), 2006  Mirror on canvas; 84 x 96 inches. Source: GladstoneGallery.com.

Jim Hodges, Movements (stage II), 2006 Mirror on canvas; 84 x 96 inches. Source: GladstoneGallery.com.

Having spent so much time obsessed with light bulbs for previous projects, it’s strange that I’m only just now coming across this work.

Jim Hodges, Coming Through, 1999 Light bulbs, ceramic sockets, wood and metal panels 31 x 63 x 5 inches Collection of Rebecca and Alexander Stewart, Seattle. Source: ArtLies.org.

Jim Hodges, Coming Through, 1999 Light bulbs, ceramic sockets, wood and metal panels 31 x 63 x 5 inches Collection of Rebecca and Alexander Stewart, Seattle. Source: ArtLies.org.

Jim Hodges, With the Wind, 1997, scarves, thread, 90x99x5 inches. Collection of Penny Cooper and Rena Rosenwasser. Source: Hodges, Jim, Ian Berry, Ron Platt, and Allan Schwartzman. 2003. Jim Hodges. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

Jim Hodges, With the Wind, 1997, scarves, thread, 90x99x5 inches. Collection of Penny Cooper and Rena Rosenwasser. Source: Hodges, Jim, Ian Berry, Ron Platt, and Allan Schwartzman. 2003. Jim Hodges. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

I love how simple yet effective this is. It’s presented in an unfussy way, yet is beautiful and works beautifully.

Jim Hodges, Arranged, 1996, Folded book with metal paper clips, 33 x 16.5 x 26 cm, photo: Heidi L. Steiger. Source: ArtTattler.com.

Jim Hodges, Arranged, 1996, Folded book with metal paper clips, 33 x 16.5 x 26 cm, photo: Heidi L. Steiger. Source: ArtTattler.com.

Jim Hodges, Untitled, 2001, Prismacolor on wall, dims. var. Installation views, CRG Gallery, NY. Source: Hodges, Jim, Ian Berry, Ron Platt, and Allan Schwartzman. 2003. Jim Hodges. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

Jim Hodges, Untitled, 2001, Prismacolor on wall, dims. var. Installation views, CRG Gallery, NY. Source: Hodges, Jim, Ian Berry, Ron Platt, and Allan Schwartzman. 2003. Jim Hodges. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

Works on Paper

Jim Hodges, Overlaps under there, 1999, tissue paper with cut paper, 30 x 22.5 inches. Private Collection, NY. Source: Hodges, Jim, Ian Berry, Ron Platt, and Allan Schwartzman. 2003. Jim Hodges. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

Jim Hodges, Overlaps under there, 1999, tissue paper with cut paper, 30 x 22.5 inches. Private Collection, NY. Source: Hodges, Jim, Ian Berry, Ron Platt, and Allan Schwartzman. 2003. Jim Hodges. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

Happy III Jim Hodges (American, born 1957)  2001. Colored pencil on two pieces of paper, Installation: 60 x 44 1/2" (152.4 x 113 cm). The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection Gift. © 2012 Jim Hodges. Source: MoMA.org.

Happy III Jim Hodges (American, born 1957) 2001. Colored pencil on two pieces of paper, Installation: 60 x 44 1/2" (152.4 x 113 cm). The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection Gift. © 2012 Jim Hodges. Source: MoMA.org.

Jim Hodges  COMPLEX CHORD - GREEN CENTERED GOLD 2011 collage 15 1/8 x 11 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches. Source: 2by2catalogue.org.

Jim Hodges COMPLEX CHORD - GREEN CENTERED GOLD 2011 collage 15 1/8 x 11 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches. Source: 2by2catalogue.org.

Jim Hodges. Source: art-documents.tumblr.com

Jim Hodges. Source: art-documents.tumblr.com

Found this today. Oddly, I’ve also been playing with photo transparencies of kitch imagery in the studio lately.

Jim Hodges, I've pictured us..., 2008, Folded archival pigment print on transparent Mylar, 36 7/8 x 27 x 2 3/4 inches. Source: ArtNet.com.

Jim Hodges, I've pictured us..., 2008, Folded archival pigment print on transparent Mylar, 36 7/8 x 27 x 2 3/4 inches. Source: ArtNet.com.

Text Work

Lift ticket for Aspen Art Museum’s partnership project. If this is not positive psychology, I don’t know what is.

Jim Hodges, Give More Than You Take, 2008. Image courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery, New York. Source: aspenartmuseum.org.

Jim Hodges, Give More Than You Take, 2008. Image courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery, New York. Source: aspenartmuseum.org.

For this billboard, according to the Hirshhorn:

Hodges invited international delegates to the United Nations to translate in their own language and handwriting the phrase “don’t be afraid.”

Originally used “to remind the artist to have courage in making his own work,” the phrase also takes on various political connotations.

Jim Hodges, Don’t Be Afraid billboard at the Hirschhorn, 2005-2006. Source: hirshhorn.si.edu.

Jim Hodges, Don’t Be Afraid billboard at the Hirshhorn, 2005-2006. Source: hirshhorn.si.edu.

Jim Hodges, Don't Be Afraid, 2004  Injet on vinyl; dimensions variable. Source: GladstoneGallery.com

Jim Hodges, Don't Be Afraid, 2004 Injet on vinyl; dimensions variable. Source: GladstoneGallery.com

Recent Exhibitions

Selections from the knock-out exhibitions at Barbara Gladstone this past winter. Rejoice, Minnesotans: these are going to be in the Walker’s 2014 survey exhibition, Jim Hodges: sometimes beauty.

Jim Hodges Untitled (2011) installed at Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York Photo: Gladstone Gallery. Source: WalkerArt.org.

Jim Hodges, Untitled (2011) installed at Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York Photo: Gladstone Gallery. Source: WalkerArt.org.

Get the backstory on the monoliths at Walker Art Magazine.

Jim Hodges oversees the deinstallation of Untitled at Gladstone Gallery. Source: WalkerArt.org.

Jim Hodges oversees the deinstallation of Untitled at Gladstone Gallery. Source: WalkerArt.org.

Installation using light, mirrors, motors, blackened water, the entire gallery space, and then some. It’s really riveting. Have a look at the video of a performance at jimhodges.com.

Jim Hodges, Untitled, 2011  Mirror ball, mechanics and water; dimensions variable. Source: BarbaraGladstone.com.

Jim Hodges, Untitled, 2011 Mirror ball, mechanics and water; dimensions variable. Source: GladstoneGallery.com.

Jim Hodges, Untitled, 2011  Mirror ball, mechanics and water; dimensions variable. Source: BarbaraGladstone.com.

Jim Hodges, Untitled, 2011 Mirror ball, mechanics and water; dimensions variable. Source: GladstoneGallery.com.

Untitled, 2011  Wood, canvas, tempera and mechanics; Inside: 120 x 180 x 180 inches (304.8 x 457.2 x 457.2 cm) / Outside: 163 x 185 1/4 x 189 1/4 inches (414 x 470.5 x 480.7 cm). Source: BarbaraGladstone.com.

Jim Hodges, Untitled, 2011 Wood, canvas, tempera and mechanics; Inside: 120 x 180 x 180 inches (304.8 x 457.2 x 457.2 cm) / Outside: 163 x 185 1/4 x 189 1/4 inches (414 x 470.5 x 480.7 cm). Source: GladstoneGallery.com.

It’s interesting to think about how an artist develops—starting with modest projects made alone, in a studio, using materials at hand, and then orchestrating multi-venue, logistics-laden, monumental fabrication projects. This is a particularly contemporary way for an artist’s work to mature, as the latter is only possible with market success and the support of blue-chip institutions.

Perhaps if emerging artists bushwhack their way through creative territories, established artists have to remain true to course despite siren songs of numerous pathways (sorry for mixing maritime and terrestrial metaphors). Even in his recent massive metallized boulders, I think Hodges’ work retains its elemental, experimental and experiential aspects.

This seems to be true for viewers and for artists, including Hodges. Quoted by Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson of the Aspen Art Museum (HuffPo), Hodges said:

There are no guarantees [in art]. [Art] challenges and rewards. We get what we choose from it.

Surveying an artist’s life’s work is a great way to gain perspective. When I did a lot of research on contemporary artists in graduate school, I realized that of the artists whose work I love, the work they’re making their fifties is outstanding. Hodges is in his mid-fifties. (So is Cindy Sherman.) The message is to keep pushing, be patient, and never stop evolving.

I think it’s fantastic that the Walker is going to host a survey of Hodges’ work next year. Combined with the Walker’s amazing design team, I’m sure the catalog is going to be fantastic. Maybe a Phaidon monograph will be in order soon?

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Art & Development

Points of Reference

Assorted sources of gratification, amusement, and inspiration.

Sol Lewitt at Dia:Beacon

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1085: Drawing Series-Composite, Part I-IV, #1-24, A+B, (detail), 1968/2003. Photo: Bill Jacobson.

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1085: Drawing Series-Composite, Part I-IV, #1-24, A+B, (detail), 1968/2003. Photo: Bill Jacobson. Image Sources: Dia:Beacon

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1085: Drawing Series-Composite, Part I-IV, #1-24, A+B, http://cwongyap.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php(detail), 1968/2003. Photo: Bill Jacobson.

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1085: Drawing Series-Composite, Part I-IV, #1-24, A+B, (detail), 1968/2003. Photo: Bill Jacobson. Image Source: Dia:Beacon

Learn why this combo rocked my world in the previous post, “Good New for Art Lovers.”

Designer and happiness evangelicist Stephen Sagmeister’s TED talk videos

Graphic designer Sagmeister wants to promote happiness. He’s compiled some advice on living in an exuberantly designed book called “Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far.” In his TED talks, he presents his ideas in a very elemental, approachable style. At the risk of making a huge generalization, I found his demeanor self-possessed in a European way—dry wit and nonchalance just short of indifference. (It makes American enthusiasm—wide eyes, big smiles—seem like ostentatious over-sharing.) Presenting simple, innocent gestures with such unconcerned confidence can sometimes come off with a whiff of entitlement, but for all his success—which is evidently abundant—he is modest and gracious, always using the pronoun “we” to share the authorship of his work (but never naming names).

Anytime designers can break free from the conventional corporate path is great; Sagmeister’s direction—happiness—is an interesting choice.

Some of Sagmeister’s projects look like art. He makes installations, photographs and other creative gestures, often on his sabbaticals. Some of the appropriations of contemporary art techniques seem a bit apparent. At one point during his slide show, I winced, because a text made of shadows so recalled the work of Fred Eerdeckens. I haven’t got a problem with designers, or other artists, trying creative approaches that have been done before. It’s just that designers’ images aren’t held to the same critical standards that the works of contemporary artists—the creative risks are not the same. With Sagmeister’s office located in Chelsea, it’s safe to assume that he sees lots of art; a nice gesture, if he does borrow from what he sees, would be to collect art, rewarding those whose inspiration has enhanced your life (if not also your firm’s bottom line).

[On a related note, M is currently studying design that moves beyond visual style. I'm eager to see what he discovers. As designers generate content, and become authors and researchers, with what criteria should their work be judged?]

Designer Ed Fella charms and confuses young ‘uns with talk of photostats and Letraset at the Walker

Ed Fella is an interesting counterpart to hip Sagmeister. Fella, known for his handmade design work and typographic doodles, has a cult-like following among art and design students. His work is delightfully old-school. He’s also completely transparent about his appropriation of styles, and of the insignificance of the content of his work beyond the design community.

In his lecture at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, he’s got a kindly conversational style, both grandfatherly and professorial. With his quirky hoarding of images of vernacular signage, his pursuit of offbeat methods, his unapologetic borrowing of historical styles, and his insistence on making room for young designers, Fella is generous and forthright.

[Can I just say how great it is to be able to access museum lectures online? It's a proper extension of museum's purposes.]

Chris Duncan
Eye Against I
Baer Ridgeway Exhibitions, San Francisco

Chris Duncan, Eye Against I, installation view

Chris Duncan, Eye Against I, installation view. Source: Baer Ridgeway Exhibitions, San Francisco, CA.

Chris Duncant, Obstructed Image 14, 2010  Found paper and tape  14 x 20 inches

Chris Duncan, Obstructed Image #14, 2010, Found paper and tape, 14 x 20 inches. Source: Baer Ridgeway Exhibitions, San Francisco, CA.

This show manages to be sparse but massive. In encompassing and altering the gallery’s architecture, it brims with Duncan’s ambition. It places the viewer literally within his vision. The smaller works look brilliantly simple and expertly executed. I think the tape-out pieces are sublime.

Wish I could be in San Francisco to experience it firsthand.

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