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Press Release


Opening Friday January 16, 6pm – 8pm

Friedrich Petzel Gallery is pleased to announce Shapes from Maine, a new exhibition by Allan McCollum.

Since 1995, Allan McCollum has designed a sequence of projects involving various regions of the world, exploring ways in which people construct and identify themselves and their communities with emblems and symbols, sometimes based on local traditions, regional history, and geological or geographic distinctions.

Extending upon these projects and his 2005 Shapes Project — a system he created to produce (and keep track of) enough unique graphic emblems for every person on the planet, without repeating — he began to think about the Northeast of the United States, where he himself lives, and especially the state of Maine, which he has visited only once. He became attracted to the pride Maine's inhabitants take in the traditions of homecraft, and decided to research artists and artisans of the state who offer custom creations to the public through maintaining their own websites, and who run small businesses out of their homes.

Without ever meeting in person, and after much back-and-forth email conversation, four of the home-based business owners expressed interest in working with him, and he ordered a selection of custom, hand-made "Shapes" objects for the present exhibition.

The folks from Maine who helped McCollum produce the over 2200 one-of-a-kind works in this exhibit are:

Holly and Larry Little, founders of Aunt Holly's Copper Cookie Cutters, in Trescott, Maine, designers and makers of copper cookie cutters; Horace and Noella Varnum, founders of Artasia, in Sedgwick, Maine, designers and makers of wooden ornaments using scrollsaw techniques; Wendy Wyman and Bill Welsh, founders of Repeat Impressions in Freeport, Maine, designers and makers of hand-crafted rubber stamps; and Ruth Monsell, founder of Artful Heirlooms, in Damariscotta, Maine, portrait artist and maker of hand-cut silhouettes.

Throughout his forty-year career, Allan McCollum has wrestled with the vexed distinctions people make between objects created in quantity and objects created as singular; between objects that are deemed to be alike and objects that are deemed to be different; between objects made by hand and objects made with the aid of machines; between objects created at home and objects created in factories; between objects that come into being through the actions of an individual and objects that come into being through the actions of a group. The Shapes Project, is a project he specifically created to be larger than anything he could possibly complete by himself, or in his own lifetime. It has been his intention to have the project take many forms, and find expression through the ideas and actions of others.

Allan McCollum was born in in 1944 Los Angeles, California, and lives and works in New York City. His work is in over 70 museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Guggenheim Museum of Art, The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and many others. Solo retrospectives of McCollum's work have been held at the Musée d'Art Moderne, Villeneuve d'Ascq, Lille, France (1998); the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany (1995-96); the Serpentine Gallery, London (1990); the Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmo, Sweden (1990); IVAM Centre del Carme, Valencia, Spain (1990); Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (1989), and Portikus, Frankfurt, Germany (1988). He has produced public art projects in both the United States and Europe.

Texts on McCollum's work have been published by a number of interesting art historians and critics, including Rosalind Krauss, Craig Owens, Hal Foster, Anne Rorimer, Lynne Cooke, Lars Nittve, Thomas Lawson, Catherine Quéloz, Helen Molesworth, Johannes Meinhardt, Claude Gintz, Suzi Gablik, Nicolas Bourriaud, Rhea Anastas, Nancy Princenthal, and Jill Gasparina.

In 2008, McCollum's work was featured in "Multiplex: Directions in Art, 1970 to Now," the Museum of Modern Art, New York (curated by Deborah Wye); "Estratos," in Murcia, Spain (curated by Nicolas Bourriaud); "Notation: Calculus and Shape in the Arts," Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany (curated by Hubertus von Amelunxen, Dieter Appelt and Peter Weibel); "Peripheral Vision and Collective Body," the Museo d'arte moderna e contemporanea, Bolzano, Italy (curated by Corinne Diserens); and "28th Bienal de São Paulo: In Living Contact," in São Paulo, Brazil (curated by Ivo Mesquita and Ana Paula Cohen). In 2009 his work will be included in "The Pictures Generation, 1974-1984" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York (curated by Douglas Eklund).

This will be Allan McCollum's fifth solo exhibition with Friedrich Petzel Gallery. The exhibition will open on Friday January 16th, with a reception from 6-8 p.m. and will be on view through February 14th. Friedrich Petzel Gallery is located at 535 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011. For further information, please contact the gallery at, or call (212) 680-9467.