MAMCO organized the first European retrospective of William Leavitt (born in 1941, Washington, USA), an historic figure of the Los Angeles art scene. Deployed on the entirety of the first floor, the exhibition brought together pieces ranging between 1970 until now.
As part of the same Californian artistic milieu as Allen Ruppersberg, Guy de Cointet, and Bas Jan Ader—with whom he in particular edited the magazine Landslide, presented on the third floor of the museum—, Leavitt has developed a singular body of work, on the one hand, participating in Conceptual art (whose some important representatives, such as Douglas Huebler, are based in Los Angeles), and the “Narrative art” movement that emerged in the early 1970s.
The exhibition brought together historic works, installations or photo-compositions, many of which had never been shown in Europe before, paintings, and drawings from the 1980s-1990s, as well as major recent installations. The project has been organized in such a way as to respect the chronological development of the work, while highlighting its thematic resonances, ranging from science-fiction to the notion of decor. It provided the opportunity to take in the extent of William Leavitt’s project, to reposition his contribution in the decades he has lived through, and to evaluate the echoes it continues to have with many artists of new generations.
Through his installations, drawings and paintings, play and sound performances, Leavitt re-examines the production of the Western imaginary, as imposed, since the end of WWII, by the “Hollywood factory.” Through a selection of parts of stage sets, the isolation and recombination of fragments coming from everyday culture, which often conceals a conservative social order and politics, the artist turns these representations inside out: he makes us see them as so many conceptual frameworks in which stories (fictional ones or from our own lives) can be set.
- Exhibition curated by Lionel Bovier et Julien Fronsacq
- The exhibition benefited from the support of the Fondation du Jubilé de la Mobilière Suisse Société Coopérative and of the Greene Naftali Gallery, New York