Installation of Artwork Underway

Mar 27, 2003

Save the Date
Public opening, Sunday, May 18

Dia Art Foundation announces completion of the renovation of the historic facility that will become Dia:Beacon, a new museum opening in Beacon, New York, on May 18, 2003. Located on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, this former printing plant will house Dia's renowned but rarely seen collection of contemporary art. Dia:Beacon includes 240,000 square feet of gallery space, named the "Riggio Galleries" in recognition of the extraordinarily generous donations to the new museum made by Leonard Riggio, chairman of Dia's board, and his wife, Louise.

The facility comprises three buildings and a train shed conjoined into a single structure. Constructed in 1929 for Nabisco (National Biscuit Company), the printing plant was donated to Dia in 1999 by International Paper, its most recent owner. Made of steel, concrete, and glass, it is a model of early-twentieth-century industrial architecture, its elegant, functional design providing an ideal environment for contemporary art. Dia has maintained the character of the original structure, with its high ceilings, broad spans between supporting columns, and more than 34,000 square feet of skylights. The facility has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

Dia's rehabilitation of the site took approximately two years to complete, and was carried out in collaboration with artist Robert Irwin and architect OpenOffice.

In order to integrate the new museum with its setting, Irwin created a master plan that featured a design for the surrounding landscape, which includes a grove of flowering trees-selected for their varying appearance over four seasons-and a formal garden. He also made subtle alterations to the fabric of the structure, including the addition of a modest pavilion that serves as a transitional space between the entry plaza and the galleries.

Art Installation
Dia is installing in the new museum works of art dating from the early 1960s to the present. Each gallery is devoted to work by a single artist, and is designed to fulfill the particular needs of the art it contains. A number of these installations have been created in collaboration with the artists themselves.

When installation is complete, the museum will exhibit work by the following artists: Bernd and Hilla Becher, Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, John Chamberlain, Hanne Darboven, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Michael Heizer, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd, On Kawara, Imi Knoebel, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Bruce Nauman, Blinky Palermo, Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman, Fred Sandback, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Andy Warhol, Lawrence Weiner, and Robert Whitman.

As visitors enter the museum they will encounter Walter De Maria's The Equal Area Series (1976-77), comprising paired stainless-steel circles and squares that are installed down the center of two adjacent, symmetrical galleries. The forms progressively increase in size by increments of two inches; in the left gallery, the increase occurs from the front of the museum to the back, and in the right gallery from back to front. The work thus seems to counteract perspectival distortion on one side of the dividing wall, and to intensify it on the other.

The perimeter galleries in the front section of the museum provide broad spaces for the exhibition of sculptural works that work well with the direct light offered by large-scale factory windows. Among these are selections from Dan Flavin's series of "monuments" for V. Tatlin (1964-90), the artist's most sustained series of works. Flavin's signature fluorescent-light works are installed on a zig-zag wall, as defined by the artist before his death. They shape the space in the gallery with white light, uniting sculpture, painting, and architecture into a cohesive environment.

The front section of the museum is also especially conducive to viewing paintings and works on paper, as north-facing skylights illuminate the galleries with even light.

Paintings on view at Dia:Beacon include Andy Warhol's Shadows (1979), a single work comprising multiple canvases, each of which contains one of two tall, narrow forms that appear as a black positive on a colored or, in two instances, silver ground. The monochrome backgrounds range in hue from a Day-Glo acid green to a majestic purple, from a lurid turquoise to a sober brown. The canvases are hung edge-to-edge and close to the floor, filling the space in a presentation that mimics the first exhibition of this work. With Shadows, Warhol creates an environmental ensemble that pertains as much to decor as it does to high art, and functions as a backdrop, as it did in 1979 when the work appeared in a fashion shoot for his magazine Interview.

Agnes Martin's Innocent Love series (1999), made specifically for Dia, exemplifies the artist's combination of ideal geometry with the lightest touch to convey intense yet contained feeling. In this work, which comprises eight paintings, gently insistent horizontal bands of pale color suggest an infinite space beyond the edges of the five-foot-square canvases, from which light seems to emanate.

The rear portion of the museum provides an architectural contrast to the front of the facility. Here, clerestory windows create a changeable light, in contrast to the even light provided by the skylights in the front, and the floor is concrete rather than wood, making this section of the museum especially conducive to the display of sculptural mass and volume.

An untitled work by Donald Judd (1976) is installed in this portion of the museum. In order to create the best viewing conditions for this piece, Dia raised the roof height of the gallery in which it is presented. The work comprises fifteen plywood boxes fabricated from Douglas fir; while the dimensions of every box are identical, each is unique in form, so that each retains its identity as both a singular object and a part of a larger work. Viewing the piece requires that the visitor navigate through the sequence of boxes in order to explore permutations of form among the units.

Also in the rear building, Michael Heizer's North, East, South, West (1967/2002) comprises four open geometric forms-a compound cube, a cone, a wedge, and a conical section-constructed of Cor-Ten steel. The massive shapes, whose depth reaches some twenty feet, have been inserted into the floor. Viewers encounter vertiginous empty spaces created by the work's uncanny volumes, and experience an intense physical relationship between the body and the solids and voids defined by the work.

Joseph Beuys's encyclopedic Arena-where would I have got if I had been intelligent! (1970-72) includes 100 panels containing a vast compendium of photographs taken from the beginning of his career in the mid-1950s, up to 1972. Multiple shots of some of his most important actions and details of individual components are suggestively interwoven. A single found photograph, of the Roman amphitheater in Verona, speaks to Beuys's overriding vision that this work would address the "arena" of life. Arena also includes an oilcan and piles of blocks of wax and fat interspersed with sheets of copper and iron, which serve as freestanding sculptural components.

In the facility's former train shed, Dia has installed three of Richard Serra's Torqued Ellipses (1996-97) and a torqued spiral, 2000 (2000). In form and scale these offer an unforgettable physical experience, in which space shifts and moves in unexpected ways. Visitors enter the interior of the works by passing through an opening in the massive Cor-Ten steel plates. Navigating the sculptures from within may be disorienting, as one frequently sees the converse of what is occurring at one's feet happening over one's head, making it especially difficult to track visually the curvature of the wall surfaces. The footprint of the sculpture and the shape of its upper profile become clear from within. Each is a perfect ellipse, and each has the same radius; however, these ellipses are not aligned but angled dramatically one to the other, resulting in unprecedented spatial experiences.

Dia will exhibit work by Bruce Nauman in the museum's lower level, including Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage) (2001). This video installation records nocturnal activity in Nauman's studio, including that of his cat and an invasion of mice during the summer of 1999. The video projections in the gallery mimic the camera positions around the perimeter of Nauman's studio, so that the presentation at Dia:Beacon figuratively overlays the studio onto the gallery. Views of the studio reveal evidence of daily activity through shifting locations of tools and materials as well as accumulated residue of past work. A highly mediated experience of the artist's private world, Mapping the Studio offers voyeuristic access, while simultaneously acknowledging the impossibility of witnessing the essence of the creative process.

Dia:Beacon presents an extraordinary range of art, only a small sampling of which has been described. The wealth of work on view at the museum is a powerful reminder of how remarkable and prescient were the contributions of this generation of artists.

Art installation at Dia:Beacon will be complete in May 2003; the museum opens to the public on May 18. General information on the museum, including directions, is attached.

Dia Art Foundation
Dia Art Foundation was founded in 1974. A nonprofit institution, Dia plays a vital role among visual arts organizations nationally and internationally by initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects, and by serving as a locus for interdisciplinary art and criticism. In addition to the new museum in Beacon, Dia presents exhibitions and public programming at Dia Center for the Arts, in Chelsea, New York (which will be renamed Dia:Chelsea after the new museum opens), and maintains long-term, site-specific projects in the western United States, in New York City, and on Long Island.

Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries is named in honor of Louise and Leonard Riggio for their extraordinary generosity. Substantial capital support for Dia:Beacon was provided by Louise and Leonard Riggio and Lannan Foundation. Extensive capital funds were also provided by Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee; Frances and John Bowes; Jay Chiat; Frances R. Dittmer; Angela and William L. Haines; and International Paper. Additional contributions were made by Dia's Board of Trustees, individuals, foundations, and the following public agencies: Office of Governor George E. Pataki through Empire State Development; the Dutchess County Industrial Development Agency; the City of Beacon; the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation; and the New York State Council on the Arts.

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For additional information or materials contact:
Press Department, Dia Art Foundation, press@diaart.org or 212 293 5518

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