Galerie Buchholz Literally Turned Over Its Keys to Cady Noland to Land an Ultra-Rare Show of New Works by the Deeply Private Artist
The show is timed to the release of the elusive artist's new two-volume book.
A selection of people obsessed with the artist Cady Noland: billionaire collectors, mega-gallery founders, powerful museum directors, fans who trek to her every show like Deadheads. And so a quiet announcement last Friday was both a cultural bonanza and a flabbergasting surprise: Galerie Buchholz New York had opened a show that included new work by Noland, an accompaniment to the self-published, two-volume book by the artist, titled The Clip-On Method, co-edited by Rhea Anastas.
Noland has updated some of her works and shown them over the past few years, but this show includes a group of new pieces that were made on site. As such it features, arguably, a greater number of new pieces than have been seen in public in some years.
The outpost of Galerie Buchholz in New York is on a tony block of East 82nd Street. Around 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, election day in New York City, I opened the door and came into direct engagement with Untitled (2021), a sculpture made from galvanized steel fence, a powerful opening salvo for a historic show.
A set of new works by Cady Noland exhibited together is to most observers simply impossible. As far as anyone knows, apart from any hypothetical secret production, the last known newly designed work was made in 2008 and is in the collection of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, gifted by Noland and the arts patron Helen van der Miej-Tcheng.
The world hasn’t exactly been lacking in essential works by Cady Noland. Her sculptures made in the 1980s and 1990s are routinely on view in museums, and they still have perhaps more immediacy and punch than when they were made. For instance, the sprawling review at the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt, which closed in 2019 and will not tour, was arguably the defining museum show of the Trump era, with Noland’s brawny, muscular responses to the American mythos set against the totems of oppression—fences that keep out immigrants, barricades to enforce brutality, holes that evoke the victims of gun violence.
There is a whispered aura around Noland, who generally does not speak to the press (and did not respond to a request for comment for this story) and shuns most public appearances. According to an epic write-around profile of Noland by Andrew Russeth, when Noland had a show at Team Gallery in 2000, she told owner José Freire that he was not allowed to sell to any art dealers, as they might flip the work. And in her last interview, in 2014 with Sarah Thornton for her book Seven Days in the Art World, Noland allegedly said she would shoot Larry Gagosian if he went ahead with plans to show her work in 2013. (He didn’t.)
The reason for the show at Galerie Buchholz is entirely for the book, on sale for $65 in a limited run, with all the funds going directly to the artist. The book, the latest example of Noland’s long working relationship with art historian Rhea Anastas, is a marvel, as they co-edited it as an artwork itself that doubles as a massively important publication. Presented in two volumes, it’s a comprehensive trove of photographs of Noland’s works, as well as texts the artist wrote, and articles by other writers selected by Noland. It is as rich as her art, a dizzying spin through the American cultural firmament deeply rooted in Noland’s vigorous voice.
Plus, it will prove to be manna for Noland obsessives, who’ll sift through every footnote. For instance: according to the index, in 2018, unbeknownst to anyone, the truly remarkable cast aluminum sculpture Tower of Terror (1993-94) was shown publicly in a space in Brooklyn before it was auctioned at Phillips for $2.2 million. (The buyers were Emily and Mitchell Rales for their museum, Glenstone).
Buchholz director Peter Currie said that Noland wanted to complement the release of The Clip-On Method with a show of works that could function in a similar way as the book.
Noland and Anastas, who is an associate professor of art at the University of California, Irvine, looked for a space, and the two approached Daniel Buchholz and Christopher Muller, Buchholz’s partner in the gallery. While the dealer is simply providing a venue for the show and acting as a single-title bookstore, it’s an appropriate match. Buchholz works with artists who have practices of a similar intensity, like Lutz Bacher and Isa Genzken, as well as Moyra Davey and R.H. Quaytman, who along with Anastas are co-founders of Orchard, the artist-run space that operated in New York in the mid-aughts.
But most importantly, Buchholz agreed to give Noland complete control, even handing her the keys to the gallery so she could come and go as she pleased.
“It was our wish to let her have the space and make the show entirely herself,” Currie said.
Noland began by carpeting the space, which usually has wood floors, and putting the blinds down on the window that looks out to 82nd Street. She installed three works from 1991/92, silkscreens on metal with custom frames, by simply resting them against the wall, placed on the carpet. Like so many of her early works, they are as fierce and timely as ever: They consist of annotated pages of Police Patrol: Tactics and Techniques, a manual for officers from the 1970s.
Then Noland went about assembling her masterful new sculptures in the gallery. In addition to the fence installed against the window that acts as the opening salvo, there’s another fence work installed against the wall, this time without the other’s metal rod that runs through the middle. And then there are four works, all untitled, made from plastic barricades, with different numbers of Plasticade A-frames making up the sculptures, with the words “MADE IN THE U.S.A.” printed on each side.
The book is for sale through the website Noland made for the rollout, and also on site at the gallery. So far, according to the sign-in sheet, only a handful of connected art-world insiders seem to have seen the show. But it has a long run. The Cady Noland show at Galerie Buchholz is open through September 11.
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