Robert Kinmont “Listen” at Kunsthaus Glarus
The Californian conceptual artist Robert Kinmont (b. 1937 in Los Angeles, lives in Sonoma, CA, USA) is primarily concerned with his environment, the Californian landscape. He works with simple, mostly natural materials, and places these in relation to his body and his life. Probably his best known work, entitled 8 Natural Handstands (1969/2005), a series of photographs showing the artist doing handstands in abandoned landscapes, on the edges of cliffs, river beds, forests and deserts, was illustrated in Lucy Lippard’s famous book ‘Six Years; The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972’.
Here he uses photography to document a balancing act, a temporary existential experience in the landscape. A second series of photographs entitled My Favorite Dirt Roads (1969/2008) shows black-and-white, documentary-style depictions of streets from around his home town. In an interview Kinmont describes these pictures, charged with personal memories, with lots of humorous details and lived experience. His extraordinary personal access to the existential experience of life repeatedly places the dynamic between artist, art work and the context of the work, often the landscape, at the centre of his practice. The works are in many cases characterised by a certain structural openness. The processes involved are seen as an integral part of the work. The realisation can deviate from the idea. This is true, for example, of the work entitled Copper Pots (Given a Chance, 1972), a collection of copper vessels that the artist placed in the ground in a dried-up, deserted landscape, hoping that the water he poured into the vessels every day would encourage the growth of plants. After a while he recognised this hope as illusory, but discovered his daily hike, tending to the pots and avoiding leaving traces in the landscape as a primary aspect of the work. The works Listen 1, 2, 3 (2010-11) give the Californian artist’s first European institutional solo exhibition in Kunsthaus Glarus its title. In open wooden boxes, Kinmont is showing a rather puzzling collection of personal found objects, goose and duck feathers, a piece of granite and personal notes. The work Home Sweet Home (2010-11), and the work 1 Cubic Foot of California (2011) show, both again in wooden boxes, soil from his home town, with pillows or a shovel. Simple, direct human experience in an everyday environment characterise all his works. One would almost imagine one was poetically on the trail of the transience of the moment.
Before finishing his studies at the San Francisco Fine Arts Institute (1970) and the University of California (1971), Kinmont’s work was shown in a group show in the Berkeley Gallery in San Francisco. Between 1968 and 1981 he showed regularly in galleries and institutions such as the San Francisco Museum of Art; the de Young Museum, San Franciso; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. and the 1968 Sculpture Annual in the Whitney Museum, New York. In the mid-1970s he interrupted his artistic activity and taught from 1971 until 1981 at Ontario College of Art, San Francisco Academy of Art, the University of California in Berkeley and the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1976 he founded an art school of his own in the small town of Bishop in California. Between 1981 and 2005 Robert Kinmont studied and practised Buddhism and worked as a carpenter. In 2005 he resumed his artistic work and since then his work has been shown in group and solo exhibitions, including Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974, Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012) and in the Haus der Kunst, Munich (2013).
A catalogue will be published to accompany the exhibition, in collaboration with Mousse Publishing.
until 5 May 2013
Robert Kinmont “Listen” at Kunsthaus Glarus. Until 5 May 2013. Photos: Gunnar Meier and Kunsthaus Glarus