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Oriol Vilanova: Anything, Everything

Saturday, May 11, 2019Sunday, July 21, 2019

Installation view of Oriol Vilanova: Anything, Everything. Photograph by Tom Loonan and Brenda Bieger.

1905 Building, Gallery 5

Every week, artist Oriol Vilanova (Spanish, born 1980) scours flea markets for second-hand postcards. He organizes his collection of more than 75,000 postcards into artworks that explore how images both reflect and inform how we see the world. More than 4,500 museum postcards of dramatically different objects make up Anything, Everything, the centerpiece of Vilanova’s presentation at the Albright-Knox, which is the first museum exhibition of his work in the United States. By organizing the postcards according to their colored backgrounds, the artist prompts us to consider the ways in which museums are not neutral but always “color,” or influence, the interpretation and value (whether financial, historical, or aesthetic) of the objects they display. 

Detail of Oriol Vilanova's Old Masters, 2017–ongoing. Installation with jackets and vintage and new postcards, dimensions variable. Photo: Isabelle Arthuis

Detail of Oriol Vilanova's To be Precise, 2015–ongoing. Installation of vintage postcards in bundles, dimensions variable. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo: Roberto Ruiz

Image courtesy of the artist. Photo: Pauline Hatzigeorgiou

Vilanova’s exhibition extends into the 1962 Building with two other postcard-based works. For Old Masters, the artist will install four ordinary-looking jackets in different locations. Unlike most works of art, these jackets are meant to be touched: in their pockets, visitors will find postcards from Vilanova’s collection featuring works by the artists of adjacent paintings. For To be Precise, the artist will place thousands of museum souvenir postcards—bundled to hide their images from view—in a former phone booth near Shop AK. These interventions prompt questions about how images are valued, experienced, distributed, and understood, especially within a museum context. 

The popularity of printed postcards in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries vastly expanded the circulation of images. Although Vilanova’s works are made with these “analog” materials, the scale of his installations points to the more recent proliferation of digital images in contemporary culture. While algorithms increasingly are used to process enormous databases of digital image files for specific purposes, such as crowd surveillance, Vilanova’s artworks insist that images can shape the world in more poetic ways.

This exhibition is organized by Assistant Curator Tina Rivers Ryan.

Admission to this special exhibition is Pay What You Wish on M&T FIRST FRIDAYS @ THE GALLERY.

Exhibition Sponsors

This exhibition has been supported by Institut Ramon Llull.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s exhibition program is generously supported by The Seymour H. Knox Foundation, Inc.