Two new shows opened in the Aspen Art Museum over the weekend, and will be on display through the rest of the winter season.
The displays — by Poland’s Monika Sosnowska in the downstairs portion of the museum and Germany’s Kathrin Sonntag upstairs — continue what has been a recent interest by the AAM in architecture and construction, as the nonprofit’s new home is erected in downtown Aspen.
The new shows follow the winter exhibition by Morgan Fisher that included sculptures based on the surveillance room in the new under-construction museum and a collaborative show by young Latin American artists called “Block Pillar Slab Beam,” that explored ideas of building and construction using those most basic materials.
Sosnowska, 40, has earned renown for using existing structures and manipulating them into sculptures that inject new meaning into them.
The three pieces that now fill the AAM’s main floor — titled “The Stair,” The Window” and “I Profile” — are painted steel, displayed starkly against the room’s white-washed walls and floor. “The Stair” hangs from the ceiling near the center of the room, looking like a jumbled, collapsed and twisted steel staircase.
Her stairs and deconstructed steel, taken out of any functional role and put on display in the museum, are intended to “heighten the viewer’s awareness of form and structure, calling into question what is rational or even possible within the languages of sculpture and architecture,” according to a museum exhibition description.
Sosnowska’s new work in the museum coincides with this spring’s release of an illustrated book on her career, covering a decade of Sosnowska’s sculpture. It includes writing on the acclaimed artist by AAM director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, along with essays by Kunsthalle Basel director Adam Szymczyk and Harvard University art professor Maria Gough.
While the downstairs show is stark and makes imaginative use of repurposed steel, the upstairs gallery is filled with colorful mixed-media work by Sonntag in an exhibit titled “Green Doesn’t Matter When You’re Blue.”
It is the 31-year-old Berlin-based artist’s first major U.S. exhibition.
Sonntag’s exhibition includes photographs, projections, sculptures and more. In eight framed photographs of altered nature scenes, trees mimic human forms. In two unframed prints, a phone booth is overtaken by ivy and reclaimed by nature. Onto a low-lying table at the end of the corridor-like gallery, Sonntag projects images of a human hand manipulating a lemon, an egg, a sponge and a banana — paralleling the look of the foods with man-made objects. Beside the projected images sits a vase of blue flowers in blue water. Sonntag also has installed a door in the middle of the room.
It may take some time for visitors to absorb it all before the tricks of perception and visual puns in Sonntag’s work make themselves clear. “In her photographs and slide installations,” reads a museum description, “seemingly causal arrangements of quotidian objects turn out to be carefully orchestrated compositions staged for the camera.”
Both new exhibitions opened Friday and will remain on display — free and open to the public — through April 21. On April 4, Zuckerman Jacobson is scheduled to host a conversation with the public about Sosnowska’s work, as part of the museum’s “I Don’t Get It” series.