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Two Way Mirror / Hedge Arabesque

Dan Graham
03-dan-graham

Two Way Mirror / Hedge Arabesque is one of Graham’s characteristic freestanding outdoor pavilions, here dissected by a high hedge in yew. The two-way mirror has a unique optical property: one side is transparent, the other reflects light, like a mirror. By assembling the glass plates so as to multiply the angles of refraction and overlapping of images, the artist captivates the visitors with a kaleidoscopic game of mirrors. Movements across space, inner feelings, conditions of light and transformations of the surrounding landscape constantly change our vision. The pavilions are conceived as places for people to meet, have fun, engage in conversations, relax or meditate, open to everybody. “My work is always about how viewers see themselves,” says Graham.

The arabesque is the decorative style typical of Islamic art, consisting of floral and vegetal motifs woven seamlessly. Graham’s investigations have always focused on the mutual relations between environment, art, architecture and audience. His first pavilions from the early Eighties were a result of the artist’s interest in landscape architecture and the public function of gazebos and belvederes. In his essay “Garden as Theater as Museum” (1988), Graham interprets Renaissance gardens as the first museums of Western history.

Hence the choice to locate Two Way Mirror / Hedge Arabesque in the Valley of Rhododendrons of Oasi Zegna, renowned for its spectacular spring bloom. Created in the Sixties by the great Florentine landscape architect Pietro Porcinai, this area has been recently restructured by Paolo Pejrone, another master of Italian garden architecture.

THE ARTIST

Dan Graham

Dan Graham (Urbana, Illinois, 31 march 1942 – New York, 19 february 2022). Artist, video maker, writer, curator, art and music critic, Graham is a key figure of Conceptual Art. In 1964, he organized the first exhibition of his friend Sol LeWitt, followed by shows of Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Robert Smithson. In the Seventies, he created performances, videos and films, which analysed audiences’ behaviour and psychology. Since the Eighties, Graham began creating glass and metal pavilions, that fuse together sculpture, architecture and design, in order to trigger a mode of viewing art that embraces the viewers and locates them at the centre of all perceptual experience.

In 2014, the De Pont Museum in Tilburg, the Netherlands, hosted a retrospective titled Models and Beyond. In 2009, Beyond, a major retrospective of the artist toured from the MOCA in Los Angeles, to the Whitney Museum in New York and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. In 2006, Graham exhibited at the Castello di Rivoli, near Turin, Italy. In 2001/2, Dan Graham, Works 1965 – 2000 was hosted by the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris, Kröller – Müller Museum in Otterlo, NL, and Kiasma in Helsinki.

Graham has participated in numerous biennials of Venice (1976, 2003, 2004, 2005), Documenta V, VI , VII, IX , IX and X in Kassel (1972, 1977, 1982, 1992 and 1997), and the Sculpture Project in Münster (1987, 1997) . In 2010, he was honoured by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York.