Ken Price’s Sensual Curves at Matthew Marks Gallery

It's your last chance to see this show, which closes today.

Ken Price, Simple-istic (2009) Photo courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery

Ken Price, Simple-istic (2009)
Photo: Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.

Broken into two shows spread across three West 22nd Street spaces, Matthew Marks‘ exhibition of Ken Price‘s sculptures is a varied and accessible sampling of the late sculptor’s unique style. Price, who died in 2012, is known for his participation in the original Los Angeles visual art scene, mounting his first solo show at the legendary Ferus Gallery in 1960.

The main attraction, “Large Sculptures” features an array of  buoyant, rounded forms, many of which are derived from early drawings of Price’s that depict massive, abstract forms set in otherworldly landscapes which are also on display. While Price is best known for his petite, often hand-held sculptures, he had been dreaming of making larger works for decades. But it wasn’t until 2006 that he did so. Those then became a major focus of his later work, inspiring him to create eight more large-scale sculptures before his untimely death. With smooth and iridescent surfaces, some feel as though they are slowly oozing through space, while others take on more active, even vaguely human forms. They are pleasing to the eye—sensual, but not necessarily sexual; soft in form, but solid in material. They’re easy to look at, but difficult to turn away from. It’s possible to perceive something new with each glance.

Ken Price, Reltny (1983) Photo courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery

Ken Price, Reltny (1983)
Photo: Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.

At the other end of Price’s oeuvre (a few steps away at 526 West 22nd) is “Specimen Rocks,” a series of small, textural, angular sculptures, each encased in their own glass vitrine. With their glossy, eye-catching colors and multifaceted forms, they could be rocks excavated from a strange, alien planet. While they are no less fun or aesthetically pleasing than the large pieces, their glass cases present them as locked away, when all one really wants to do is explore their intricacies up close, especially given their diminutive size. As a series, they feel connected, but notably different from one another. One wonders if perhaps they are not, in fact, from the same planet at all.

As inherently worthwhile as both shows are, they are better when viewed in tandem, to get a true picture of Price’s ability to create a broad spectrum of non-living objects that somehow feel very alive.

Ken Price’s “Large Sculptures” is on view at Matthew Marks Gallery on 522 West 22nd Street and 502 West 22nd Street through June 28. “Specimen Rocks” is on view at 526 West 22nd Street through June 28.

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