September 10, 2009

The RISD Museum of Art Presents Arnie Zimmerman and Tiago Montepegado

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Arnie Zimmerman
Inner City, detail, 2006-2009
Stoneware clay, glaze, epoxy
Courtesy of the artist
© Arnie Zimmerman
Inner CityInner City

Installed within a structural framework designed by Montepegado (in response to José Rafael Moneo’s architecture for RISD), Inner City‘s diminutive tenements, skyscrapers, scaffolding, and construction workers evoke a whimsical, mythical world. A closer look reveals signs of something amiss, as workers brawl or tumble down I-beam shafts and dumpsters overflow. Indeed, Zimmerman’s vision is an ominous one, a cautionary tale about urban corporatization, gentrification, and the waning connection to history in general and in the everyday. Zimmerman has lived and worked in New York for more than twenty-five years, observing its streetscape with a mix of awe and regret. “The parts of the city I was most familiar with when I first arrived had a visceral, palpable connection to the past,” Zimmerman observes. “Over the past few decades, New York City has irrevocably changed into a different urban environment—something more civil and benign, more bland and corporate,” he added.

About the Artist
Arnie Zimmerman (American, b. 1954; lives and works in New York) received a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1977 and an MFA in 1979 from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. In his early career, Zimmerman became known for architecture-scale carved vessels that by the late 1980s began to resemble totemic columns. Zimmerman’s work changed dramatically in the early and mid 1990s, when he began to consider the human figure on a smaller, more intimate scale. By the late 1990s, he focused on groupings or tableaus of figures.

About the Architect
Tiago Montepegado (Portuguese, b. 1970; lives and works in Lisbon) graduated in 1995 with a degree in architecture from the Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade Técnica de Lisboa. In 1998, he began teaching in the Department of Architecture at the Universidade Moderna de Lisboa. From 1995 to 2000, he served as an advisor to Portuguese president Jorge Sampaio at the Bureau for Youth, Education, and Science. Montepegado’s firm specializes in private-home construction and the renewal of public spaces and buildings. Collaboration is a central aspect of Montepegado’s method.

Judith Tannenbaum was named The RISD Museum’s first curator of contemporary art in 2000. In 2002, she became the Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art, the Museum’s first endowed position. At RISD she has organized Styrofoam; Beth Lipman; Wunderground: Providence, 1995 to the present; Island Nations: New Art from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Diaspora (2004); Betty Woodman: Il Giardino dipinto (2005); On the Wall: Wallpaper by Contemporary Artists (2003); and Jim Isermann: Logic Rules (2000); among other exhibitions. Ana Viegas, Ratton Gallery, Lisbon, organized the initial presentation of Inner City at the Electricity Museum.

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