November 18, 2017 - The David Ireland House - Michael E. Smith
November 18, 2017

The David Ireland House

Michael E. Smith, Untitled, 2016. Stork, shovel. Courtesy of the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.

Michael E. Smith
November 18, 2017–February 3, 2018

The David Ireland House
500 Capp Street
San Francisco, California 94110
United States
Hours: Wednesday–Saturday 11am–5pm

T +1 415 872 9240

The 500 Capp Street Foundation is proud to present Michael E. Smith, opening November 18, 2017. Detroit-born Michael E. Smith is the first Visiting Artist, since opening to the public in 2016, that The 500 Capp Street Foundation has invited to fully engage with David Ireland’s largest and most famous work, The House, including the walls, floors, textures, windows, available light, as well as The House’s new additions, the terrace and The Garage.

Framing the exhibition, Michael E. Smith, are three David Ireland stage set paintings, Of Mice and men, The Twelfth Night, and Logical Form Study. All circa 1950-53, these early exercises were created during Ireland’s time at California College of Arts and Crafts (now CCA). Notes Bob Linder, Head Curator, The 500 Capp Street Foundation, “The illustrations are not the quick gestured, monochromatic color fields we think about when traditionally referencing Ireland’s work. The stage set paintings are labored, graphic and naive, dramatic and psychedelic in their coloring. Strained, maybe even self-conscious, these predecessors to The House set the stage for Smith’s exhibition.”

Michael E. Smith, the exhibition, creates a dark, humorous, web–like narrative, spun amidst the entire David Ireland House at 500 Capp Street. Designed with a formal sparseness, there’s a theatricality to Smith’s installations in both his sculptures and his video work. Using only existing natural light sources—or sometimes none at all—Smith spends time reading the room/s, crafting relationships, and creating dialogues between objects and given spaces.

Bleakly arranged, Smith’s installations are as important as the works of art themselves. In keeping with Ireland’s practice, Smith’s economy caters to a desire to retain and expose the life span of objects. “Smith’s objects are brutal, honest, and deadpan in the best possible way,” Linder states. His material choices range from videos and sound works, to textiles, to compound objects—made with commonplace things, like tools, garbage, oatmeal, shells, telephone books, hats, sleeping bags, bees, taxidermied animals, a human skull and urethane foam. These (considered) materials are manipulated, re-contextualized, and tweaked enough that they begin to feel out of sync, at which point they’re used to create unexpected or alien environments within a given exhibition space. A viewer might encounter Smith’s work in the margins of the exhibition space: in the corners, on the ceiling, flat on the ground.

Michael E. Smith, the featured exhibition at The David Ireland House, is open to the public November 18, 2017–February 3, 2018.


Michael E. Smith
Michael E. Smith lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions that include: S.M.A.K., Ghent; Joseloff Gallery, Hartford Art School, CT; Lumber Room, Portland, 2016; Kunstverein Hannover, De Appel, Amsterdam, Sculpture Center, New York, 2015; La Triennale di Milano, Milan, Power Station, Dallas, 2014; CAPC musee d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, 2013 and CAM / Contemporary Art Museum, St Louis, 2011, among others. Smith participated in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, and his work has additionally been included in group exhibitions at venues including MoMA PS1, New York, 2014; Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2014; and MOCA, Cleveland, 2013. Michael E. Smith is represented by Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York; Michael Benevento, Los Angeles; ZERO, Milan, and KOW, Berlin. 

David Ireland
David Ireland (1930-2009) is internationally admired for a diverse and prolific body of work concerned with the beauty inherent in everyday things and the making of art as a part of daily life. His hybrid practice blends sculpture, architecture, painting, and performance, and often draws on ordinary materials such as dirt, concrete, wood, or wire he collected over time.

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The David Ireland House
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