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Robert Mangold X, Plus and Frame Paintings Works from 1980s

robert_mangold_parasol_unit__within__red_yellow_orange_1981
Robert Mangold+ Within + (Red, Yellow, Orange), 1981 Acrylic and black pencil on canvas 229.5 x 306 cm
Winterthur, Kunstmuseum Winterthur. Purchased with funds from Jubiläumsstiftung Kunstverein Winterthur, 2008

24 February – 8 May 2009
Parasol unit is delighted to present a new exhibition by the American artist Robert Mangold. The exhibition
will concentrate on three dynamic groups of paintings that Mangold executed between 1980 and 1986,
entitled X, Plus and Frame Paintings series. These outstanding and rarely exhibited works continue to
express Mangold’s central concern in painting, namely how figure and surface relate. This will be
Mangold’s first exhibition in a UK institution.

The X and + series, as their titles suggest, refer to mathematical operations. They are composed of several
rectangular and square canvases of varying lengths and widths that are abutted and inscribed over with
pencil; respectively a linear figure of X or +. The proportions of these canvases are derived from precisely
defined mathematical relationships, such as the halving of the length or width of a specific area and
depending on the manner they are joined, the outline of the whole can be defined as either regular or
irregular. The pencil inscribed figure of X or + on the painted canvas eliminates categorically any illusory
effect and keeps the painting to the surface. Mangold uses vivid and intense colour combination to
highlight the interplay of scale and perception.

The concept of intensifying a clearly accentuated pictorial form by creating multi-part structures and using
different colours is taken one step further in Mangold’s Frame Paintings, in which usually four, but in a
few cases three, rectangular canvases are arranged to form a frame. An irregularly distorted, hand-drawn
ellipse in pencil runs across the surfaces of the painted elements, and touches variably the inner corners
of the frame or the inner and outer edges of the rectangles to accentuate the surface of the painting. One
of the most significant elements of these works is the relationship between the work and the gallery wall,
which is encapsulated by the frame, but also surrounds the work, creating a multi-dimensional space that
resonates with the works of some of Mangold’s contemporaries, such as Dan Flavin and Sol LeWitt.
A remarkable aspect of the Xs, Plus and Frame Paintings is their often imposing size and their
architectural quality. Of these three series Mangold has said: ‘You always come to a dilemma at the end of
a series. The image had become thinner and thinner [in the Xs and +s] and there was more and more wall.
The energy was all going out. I wanted to go back circling, getting the image back into a container. So I
took these four members and made frames out of them, and then used the line as a way of connecting
through it.’

Robert Mangold (b.1937) held his first solo show in 1964 and since then he has exhibited extensively
internationally. Solo exhibitions include Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York in 1971; Kunsthalle,
Basel in 1977 and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 1982. Mangold has exhibited as part of group
exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art, New York; Grand Palais, Paris; and Kunsthaus, Zurich. His work has
been exhibited at both Documenta (1972, 1977, 1982) and the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial
(1979, 1983, 1985), and at the Venice Biennale in 1993. His work is held in collections worldwide including
Tate, London; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Centre Pompidou, Paris.
This exhibition will be accompanied by a new publication on the artist’s work, co-published by
Koenig Books.

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