Norbert Brunner (b.1969), an artist whose name may be familiar to visitors of the New Britain Museum of American Art, is one of many contemporary artists participating in the 54th Venice Biennale. The Venice Biennale was started in 1895 and was originally based around the decorative arts of Italy. Its focus gradually expanded, and after World War I it began to spotlight contemporary artists from all over the world. Several art movements including Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art had their debut at the Biennale.
This year, the main exhibition running from June 4, 2011, to November 27, 2011, is called ILLUMInations. Curator Bice Curiger explains the concept of the show: “The title of the 54th International Art Exhibition, ILLUMInations, literally draws attention to the importance of such endeavours in a globalized world. As the biggest and oldest Biennale, la Biennale di Venezia has always been buoyed by an international spirit, and even more so now in an age in which artists themselves have become multifaceted, discerning migrants and cultural tourists.”
The work of Norbert Brunner is part of a show called Glasstress, a collateral event of this year’s Biennale. Glasstress, which features a number of artists exploring the possibilities of glass as an art form, has been previously organized in 2009 and is making a return after its resounding success two years ago. Considering that Venice is famous for its glass production, it makes historical sense that this city would host such an exhibition.
Brunner’s sculpture, Suzi, at the NBMAA is an innovation of two dimensional images translated into three dimensional design. Although the image on each side of the cube can stand on its own as the viewer walks around it, the images are brought together when looked at from a certain perspective. As a result, they attain a physical quality that carries metaphorical implications. Brunner’s sculptures demand that the viewer examines them closely for full visual appreciation and understanding. This spatial interaction with the sculpture translates into a symbolic representation of interactions the artist has encountered with humanity.
Brunner explains, “For years now, public space has been an adventure for me. Watching people interact in their respective cultural backgrounds and societal structures always manages to fascinate me. As a kind of voyeur, I love to question learned, adopted and artificially-made ideas, structures and terms, and at the same time make them relative. Because, in the end, what are all our important experiences, judgments, revelations, pieces of knowledge and information really worth?”
Brunner’s work references pointillism in its use of colored dots and optical blending to form a picture. Post-Impressionist artist Georges Seurat (1859-1891), who wanted to find a balance between art and the science of optics and color theory, invented this method of placing two different colored dots next to each other, so that from a distance the colors blend to form a new color and clear picture. Brunner takes this theory to the next level by adding a three-dimensional element of spatial contrast and blending.
Have you ever been to the Venice Biennale? Please share your experiences and insight related to this international event!
The NBMAA, too, has held its own exhibition of glass works in 2008, entitled Contemporary Glass: Chihuly and Beyond. Because of its success, the Museum is considering a sequel exhibition. What artists or works would you be most exited to see included?
Contemporary artists working with glass have been shattering its traditional uses and forms. In your opinion, do you think glass can rise to equal prominence as other fine arts mediums – painting, sculpture, photography, and in more recent decades, installation and video?