Plato. Play-Doh. You Should Go
By Leah Pfenning
In conjunction with the unveiling of their newly renovated space, The Getty Villa in Los Angeles, California will open their first contemporary exhibition in April 2018, Plato in LA: Contemporary Artists’ Visions. Featuring the work of eleven artists, the exhibit is curated around the permeation of Plato’s philosophy into contemporary art. All featured artists and their works will directly engage with Plato’s philosophy. Some artists will show existing work, while others will create pieces specifically for this exhibition.
The coming exhibition, guest curated by French art critic Donatien Grau, will focus on tying these contemporary works back into their ancient philosophical context. As Timothy Potts, the Museum Director has expressed, Platonism is the bedrock of Western thought, and although the museum does not typically feature contemporaneous art, the exhibit reaffirms this connection to the evolution of Westernism. As Nietzsche said, Christianity was “Platonism for the people”, and the sheer scope of Plato's philosophy invites an intellectual diversity.
Through the curated art - or what Plato referred to as a form of 'divine madness', there will be an examination of ideal forms, Plato's concern of being versus becoming, and mann's journey to eudaimonia. Of course the exhibit will feature Jeff Koon’s Play Doh, a colorful polychromed aluminum sculpture of the modeling compound. And works from a project by Huang Yong Ping entitled, Caverne, galvanized by Plato's The Allegory of the Cave and re-associated to the Taliban's ruination of culture and imagery.
In the Platonic school of thought there is a refutation of the reality of the material world. Forms are abstract representations of the things that surround us, perceived only by reason. Wisdom then is a recollection of what the soul already knows. So how have Plato's teachings changed in relation to society and the individual in the centuries since Plato pontificated about them? The Getty Villa answers with a curation of forms as a solution to the problems of the universe, the noeton of contemporary art.
Plato in LA: Contemporary: Artists’ Visions will be on view April 18–September 3, 2018 at the Getty Villa, 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California and feature the eleven following artists: Paul Chan, Rachel Harrison, Huang Yong Ping, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Joseph Kosuth, Paul McCarthy, Whitney McVeigh, Raymond Pettibon, Adrian Piper, and Michelangelo Pistoletto.