Hirshhorn Announces Programs for “Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s”

February 1, 2018
News Release

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The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will present a selection of free public programs in conjunction with the exhibition “Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s” (Feb. 14–May 13), which features nearly 70 artists who worked in the 1980s to explore the intersection of art and commodity. Artist talks featuring seminal figures, including the Guerrilla Girls, Krzysztof Wodiczko and Ken Lum, will bring “Brand New” to life by allowing the public to hear firsthand from artists featured in the exhibition. Marking the exhibition’s opening, the museum will offer special late-night hours for the public to view the exhibition, coinciding with a restaging of Wodiczko’s outdoor projection “Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.”

These events are part of the Hirshhorn’s diverse range of free public programs, which invite today’s leading innovators in art, design, music and technology to explore ideas that shape 21st-century culture.

Special Event

Restaging of Krzysztof Wodiczko’s “Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.,” featuring special late-night hours

Tuesday, Feb. 13–Thursday, Feb. 15; 6:30–9 p.m.

Free, walk in

The Hirshhorn will restage “Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.,” an iconic large-scale, outdoor projection by acclaimed American artist Krzysztof Wodiczko (b. 1943, Warsaw), on view for the first time since its original three-night display 30 years ago. The celebrated three-story-tall installation, commissioned by the Hirshhorn and created specifically for its uniquely curved architecture, debuted in 1988 and referenced widespread ’80s debates around the 1988 Presidential election’s political rhetoric, reproductive rights and the death penalty, by alluding to the power of mass media to convey ideologies at a time when cable TV was changing the media paradigm. Wodiczko was at the forefront of a new interest in public art, and his work reflects an increased political awareness in the art of the period, spurred by forces such as the rise of homelessness, the AIDS epidemic and the polarization of U.S. politics. For these three nights, the museum will keep its doors open for special late-night hours, during which visitors can explore “Brand New,” the exhibition with which this work coincides. “Brand New” will also include Wodiczko’s renowned “Homeless Vehicle No. 5.” (1988–89). Gallery Guides will be on the National Mall and in the lobby to answer questions and host conversations about the work.


Artist Talk: Krzysztof Wodiczko and the Guerrilla Girls

Tuesday, Feb. 13; 6:30 p.m.

Free, tickets required

The 1980s art legends Krzysztof Wodiczko and the Guerrilla Girls come together for a thought-provoking discussion on art and activism and the continued impact of their work in contemporary public discourse. Two of the nearly 70 influential figures with works in the Hirshhorn’s newest exhibition, “Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s,” the artists are joined by Curator-at-Large Gianni Jetzer, who organized the exhibition. Since the ’80s, these artists have used their craft as a platform to inspire conversation about societal issues. The Guerrilla Girls are an iconic bedrock of feminist activism, with highly visible projects that expose bias and corruption in the world. Wodiczko is similarly known for his large-scale projections on architectural façades that examine ideas about human rights and democracy.

In Conversation: Monuments and the First Amendment

Wednesday, Feb. 14; 6:30 p.m.

Free, tickets required

Inspired by the public art projections of Krzysztof Wodiczko, Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, will unite scholars of differing perspectives to discuss the intersection of art, public memory and monuments. The bipartisan panel, including Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar Richard Kurin, will dive into topics around the First Amendment and how collective history is preserved and remembered.

Artist Talk: Ken Lum and Alex Alberro

Thursday, March 29; 7 p.m.

Free, tickets required

What is power in monument and memory? Chinese Canadian artist Ken Lum has spent 30 years exploring the tension between people’s personal experience and how people categorize others. He first gained international recognition for his “Furniture Sculpture” featured in “Brand New,” a series in which he arranged found manufactured furniture in forbidding installations. Today, he is known for his conceptual and representational work across various media, especially public art. Most recently, Lum co-curated Philadelphia’s “Monument Lab,” a public art exhibition that invited a group of diverse artists to prototype new monuments throughout the city, in a time when history is increasingly traumatic, reimagining who and what is worthy of commemoration. He will be joined by Barnard College professor Alexander Alberro to discuss the impactful range of his practice, from found object sculptures to monumental public projects.

Gallery Experiences

Gallery Experience: Curator’s Tour: “Brand New”

Thursday, Feb. 15; 12:30 p.m.

Free, walk in

Year by year, follow Curator-at-Large Gianni Jetzer on a walk through the 1980s New York art world with a special insider tour of “Brand New.”

Gallery Experience: From the Archives: “Brand New”

Friday, March 9; 12:30 p.m.

Free, walk in

Hirshhorn librarian Jacqueline Protka will bring the museum’s rare artist archives into the galleries for a chance to explore memorabilia, paraphernalia, DIY projects and more created by artists featured in “Brand New.”

Gallery Experience: Who runs the world? Girls!

Friday, March 30; 12:30 p.m.

Free, walk in

Join curatorial assistant Sandy Guttman for a fascinating tour of “Brand New” to look at some of the groundbreaking women artists of the 1980s New York art scene. 

Gallery Experience: Artist’s Tour: “Brand New”

Friday, April 27; 12:30 p.m.

Free, walk in

Artist Peter Nagy gives visitors insight into his personal experiences living and working in New York in the 1980s. Nagy befriended many of the artists featured in “Brand New” and showed many of them at his gallery, Nature Morte. His works “Adism” and “Entertainment Erases History” are featured works in the exhibition. This is a unique opportunity to hear from an insider’s perspective how the exhibition captures and potentially falls short of encapsulating the era. 

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. With nearly 12,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media installations, works on paper and new media works, its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time––free to all, 364 days a year. For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu.

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Allison Peck

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