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What you need to know: The Museum of Art and History (MAH) in Geneva is hosting their annual Open Invitation exhibition from 26 January to 19 June 2023. For this edition, Ugo Rondinone was invited to take over the MAH building and its collection to produce the immersive exhibition experience “when the sun sets and the moon rises.” Located within the iconic architecture designed by Marc Camoletti (1858–1940), and strongly referencing two famous Swiss artists from the collection, Ferdinand Hodler (1853–1918) and Félix Vallotton (1865–1925), the effort establishes a dialogue between the historical and the contemporary, thanks to Rondinone’s interventions. The proverbial bookends of the exhibition are two works by Rondinone, the sun (2017) and the moon (2022)—circular sculptures over 16 feet tall, the former in gold and the latter in silver—that can be used as starting or ending points for visitors as they meander through the galleries.
About the artist: The Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone (b. 1964) studied at the Hochschule für Angewandte Künste in Vienna before moving to New York in 1998, where he currently lives and works. Rondinone represented Switzerland at the 2007 Venice Biennale with Urs Fischer and has been widely recognized for his monumental public commissions; his two most famous being Human nature (2013), which was installed at New York’s Rockefeller Center and received millions of visitors, and Seven Magic Mountains (2016), an installation of rock totems in the Nevada desert. By working with sculpture, painting, video, sound and photography, the artist’s diverse practice is involved in equally diverse themes and motifs that refer to the zeitgeist through, for example, contemporary vernacular or the iconography of advertising. Rondinone also has a parallel curatorial practice, which gives him a complex understanding of the many ways in which his work and projects connect with the public.
Why we love it: Rondinone’s takeover of the MAH highlights both the artist’s unique artistic and curatorial vision as well as the institution’s premier historical collection and magnificent architecture. Encompassing nearly a dozen gallery rooms, Rondinone invites visitors to explore the unique juxtapositions between his work and that of the historical art and architecture of the room. In one gallery, Rondinone takes a collection of Hodler paintings of Swiss warriors and installs them on plinths, turning them into sculptures to get around. Elsewhere, another gallery is populated with 11 glass horses in various shades of blue containing water from different oceans, a response to the series of paintings by Hodler depicting Lake Geneva and Lake Thun hung on the wall – which inviting a reflection on the natural versus the artificial, “the bounded and the boundless”. Together, each room within “when the sun sets and the moon rises” presents a new facet of Rondinone’s dialectical exploration of his own art practice against the backdrop of a major European institution.
Take a look inside the exhibit below.
“when the sun sets and the moon rises” is on view until June 18, 2023.
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