There seems to be no stopping Daniel Buren, an artist whose 50 year career has been characterized by one thing, and one thing only: stripes. Buren’s in-situ, or site-specificworks have challenged the conventions of art production, display and viewing, and continue to provoke important questions and debate today.
Buren’s work is quite unique in its uniform and unchanging use of stripes, always white with another colour, and always of a width of 8.7cm. This basic principle has allowed him to create a broad, surprising oeuvre that ranges from performance, to the vaguely topographical, to large-scale, gallery-consuming installations, but which are always, no matter what, site-specific. It is this obstinate use of these stripes that has allowed Buren to really examine how the institution conditions art as art. His practice has continuously engaged the museum in some shape or form in order to establish new rules for art making that come from within the institution. He sought to deconstruct and expose these frameworks by dismantling the art object, abandoning frames or supports, and taking his art off the wall. He mixed art and non-art locations, created new relationships between the work and its place of display, and revitalized the role of the viewer. His works talk about painting and its ontological nature.
Buren’s continuing relevance in contemporary art comes from this mental freeing of the art object from its institutional ties. He liberalized the practice of art, challenged the museum’s rigidity and encouraged art to experiment with its surroundings, and with the engrained assumptions about what art is.
Currently on show at the Centre Pompidou-Metz is ECHOS, Work in situ (until 9 September). At the Turner Contemporary in Margate is Buren’s specially-commissioned Borrowing and Multiplying the Landscape, work in situ (until 4 September). And Buren will soon be exhibiting at New York’s MoMA (22 June), at London’s Lisson Gallery (November 2011), and at London’s Tottenham Court Road station with a specially commissioned work (opens 2016).
For more images, and to read my full article, go to Bareface Magazine.