If you were at Frieze last weekend, a school of monochrome black and white pillars might have caught your eye. These totem pole-like sculptures, made of rubber, chalk, steel, plaster, sheepskin, and other found materials, are the handiwork of Helmut Lang, the iconic fashion designer whose eponymous label attained global recognition after its founding in 1978. His penchant for minimalism is equally evident in his art, which he has opted to focus on full-time after Prada acquired his line seven years ago. Art adviser Mark Fletcher, London gallerist Sadie Coles, and Neville Wakefield curated the showcase of more than twenty new sculptures, which Lang constructed by coating salvaged objects in tar or paint before stacking them piece-by-piece. The result, titled Helmut Lang: Sculptures, is a confident statement about reassembly and renewal.
The works, on view at 24 Washington Square North (a Village townhouse) through June 15, aren’t Lang’s first foray into the art world. He has also collaborated with Jenny Holzer and Louise Bourgeois, and he held his debut solo show in 2008 at Kestnergesellschaft in Hanover, Germany. In 2011, as if to prove he’s serious about leaving fashion behind, he destroyed six thousand objects from his archive, using the fragments as raw materials for column-like sculptures in an exhibition at East Hampton’s Fireplace Project. His first major New York show is an admittedly quiet start. It’s almost as if he’s starting over, though it doesn’t seem it’ll be long before his talents gain steam in the art world.
UPDATE: A keen Artlog tipster has informed us that this is not Helmut Lang’s first New York exhibition—the artist had his inaugural solo showing in December 2007 at The Journal Gallery in Williamsburg.