Panamarenko's experimental flying machines modeled on the motion of birds, insects, and human craft have been greeted with wonder and acclaim since the 1960s. In his exploration of the potentially fertile relationships linking technology and nature, Panamarenko considers issues of imagination as well as function. Dia Center for the Arts will introduce Panamarenko's work to audiences this fall in his first major exhibition in the United States.
Opening on November 29, 2000, Dia's presentation at 545 West 22nd Street will pair the Belgian artist's key work, Aeromodeller, built from 1969-71, with a new piece created this year. Mixing the scientific with the artistic, the monumental Aeromodeller solidified Panamarenko's thinking and established his significant reputation. Powered by four engines, this large-scale hybrid of a cocoon and a blimp is composed of a transparent inflatable sac and a gondola for passengers. Dia's installation also includes Raven's Variable Matrix (2000), which looks to the aerodynamics of insects for the basis of its engineering.
While creating readymades, collages, and performances in the mid-1960s, Panamarenko worked alongside other object-oriented conceptual artists Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers, also associated with the Wide White Space Gallery in Antwerp. Such momentous events of the 1960s as the first manned space flight by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin in 1962, the joint French-British development of the Concorde starting in 1962 and culminating in the first flight in 1969, and American Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon in 1969, cast Panamarenko's intense life-long study of the natural sciences in a new light. Since the mid-1960s, he has invented flying machines that combine primitive forms with technologically sophisticated materials in his search to resolve practical mechanical problems as well as to probe metaphysical dilemmas. In addition to building and testing speculative models, Panamarenko has developed singular theories on the nature of closed systems, electromagnetism, and the relationship between inertia and mass.
Panamarenko was born in Antwerp where he attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts from 1955 to 1960. His work has been shown widely in Europe and Japan including solo exhibitions at Kunstverein Hanover (1991); The National Museum of Art, Osaka (1992); Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris (1998); and also at the Third Biennial of Sydney (1979), the Sao Paulo Biennale (1983), and the opening last year of SMAK in Ghent, Belgium.
Dia Center for the Arts is a tax-exempt charitable organization. Established in 1974, the organization has become one of the largest in the United States dedicated to contemporary art and culture. In fulfilling this commitment, Dia sustains diverse programming in visual arts, poetry, education, and critical discourse and debate. Exhibition hours during the 2000-2001 season are Wednesday - Sunday, 12 noon to 6 pm, through June 17, 2001. Admission is $6 ($3 for students and seniors and free to members).
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