Contemporary Art Takes Over Athens’ Gennadius Library
Old and new knowledge mingle in a major exhibition opening today at the venerable Gennadius Library in Athens, Greece. Curated by the director of London’s Whitechapel Gallery Iwona Blazwick for the Greek private foundation NEON, “A Thousand Doors” sees contemporary art installed in every nook and cranny of the prestigious building and surrounding gardens, located on the grounds of the American School of Classical Studies.
Among the highlights are Adrián Villar Rojas’s crumbling clay figurative sculptures Return The World and Giuseppe Penone’s Spazio di luce – very much reminiscent of the artist’s recent Bloomberg Commssion at the Whitechapel Gallery. Other artists exhibited include Christian Boltanski, Ceal Floyer, Isa Genzken and Juan Muñoz.
“The sculptures here offer portals into real and imagined histories and ideal or apocalyptic futures,” commented Blazwick. “They are presented in the context of a garden and a library space that offer, through a thousand doors, a myriad of physical sensations and imaginative worlds.”
The Gennadius Library was founded in 1926 following John Gennadius’ gift of his 26,000-volume strong collection to the American school, and now includes more than 120,000 volumes.
The project is the first fully-fledged exhibition organized collaboratively by the Whitechapel Gallery and NEON, the brainchild of Greek food magnate and art collector Dimitris Daskalopoulos—although the London institution has exhibited part of Daskalopoulos’ collection in the past and has strong ties with NEON via the foundation’s curatorial exchange and curatorial award.
“A Thousand Doors” is very much in keeping with NEON’s low-key approach, tactful when operating in a country still in deep economic trouble. Rather than going for a new flagship building, NEON presents art within existing structures. One of the foundation’s major projects is a contemporary art festival in Athens’ National Garden, currently awaiting approval from the Greek ministry of culture.
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