February 17, 2009 - Van Abbemuseum - Ian Wilson
February 17, 2009

Ian Wilson


discussion & book presentation
Sunday 1 March 2009

Bilderdijklaan 10
Eindhoven – The Netherlands
+31 (0)40 238 1000
info [​at​] vanabbemuseum.nl


On Sunday 1 March 2009, the Van Abbemuseum presents the publication IAN WILSON THE DISCUSSIONS, a catalogue raisonné of all discussions by Ian Wilson between 1968 and 2008. On the occasion of the release of this publication, Ian Wilson will host a new discussion on this day.

After the discussion, the official book presentation will take place and subsequently director of the Van Abbemuseum Charles Esche and former director Rudi Fuchs will review the book. This day also marks the finissage of the exhibition ‘Plug In #47 Ian Wilson’, which pays homage to the artist. In this exhibition several forms of documentation, such as announcement cards, are presented, as well as a series of artist’s books and several early objects, most of them from the collection of the Van Abbemuseum.

Ian Wilson and the Van Abbemuseum
Conceptual artist Ian Wilson (1940, Durban, South Africa) has been interested in spoken language as an art form since 1968. At first, he described his own work as ‘oral communication’, and later on as ‘discussion’. At Wilson’s own request, his work is never recorded either as film or audio in order to preserve the transient nature of the spoken word. In 1976, at the invitation of former director Rudi Fuchs, Wilson visited the Van Abbemuseum for the first time. This was the first discussion by Ian Wilson within the context of a museum and it was purchased by the Van Abbemuseum in 1977. Until 1986, Wilson organised discussions at the Van Abbemuseum almost every year.

From monochrome to discussion
At first, Wilson’s artistic explorations took place entirely in the monochrome. He was absorbed by questions relating to perception and painting. This is aptly illustrated by the nameless object of fibreglass and white pigment (1967), which was recently purchased by the Van Abbemuseum. His last physical objects, ‘Circle on the Floor’ and ‘Circle on the Wall’, were created in early 1968. By making these works, Wilson realised that it was not necessary to make an object to visualise a concept. By letting go of material objects and continuing his artistic exploration in the realm of the spoken word, he was able to make the transition from visual abstraction to non-visual abstraction.

The publication
Wilson created a non-tangible art form, that only exists when the discussion is taking place, and lives on afterwards in the memories of the people that were present. The Van Abbemuseum posed the question if it would be possible to document his fleeting oeuvre. During a visit of Wilson to the Van Abbemuseum in 2006, the idea arose to make a catalogue raisonné, containing all of Wilson’s discussions from 1968 until 2008. Using documentation and the recollection of participants, the fleeting works have been catalogued by researcher Chantal Kleinmeulman. For this publication, American art historian Anne Rorimer wrote the essay ‘Ian Wilson – The Object of Thought’, placing the work of Wilson within the context of contemporaries such as Robert Barry, Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner and artists collective Art & Language.

In IAN WILSON THE DISCUSSIONS, every discussion is documented seperately. Factual information is supplemented with personal impressions of participants, including Rudi Fuchs, Daniel Buren, Lawrence Weiner, Michel Claura, René Denizot, Massimo Minini, Giuseppe Panza, Merrill Ryman, Christel & Urs Raussmüller, Sylvie Winckler, Oscar van den Boogaard and Luca Cerizza. Other works by Wilson are also addressed, including some of the ‘statements’ that are related to his discussions and refer to the general idea of discussions. IAN WILSON THE DISCUSSIONS has been compiled as a source book to stimulate further research on Wilson’s works.

Publications at the Van Abbemuseum
The Van Abbemuseum issues art publications on a regular basis. Sometimes these provide extra information alongside an exhibition, resulting from thorough research on the collection, the history of the museum and the ideologies that form the basis of it. This way, the knowledge gained within the museum is shared with the public.

Programme Sunday 1 March 2009
14:00 – 15:00 – Discussion Ian Wilson
15:00 – 15:30 – Book presentation IAN WILSON THE DISCUSSIONS
15:30 – 16:00 – Book review by Rudi Fuchs and Charles Esche

192 pages
Language: English
Authors: Chantal Kleinmeulman, Anne Rorimer
Design: Inge Ketelers
ISBN: 978-90-70149-95-6
Published by the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, in collaboration with Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and Musée d’art moderne et contemporain (Mamco), Geneva, with support by Jan Mot, Brussels.
Available at the museum shop of the Van Abbemuseum.

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