Galleria Franco Noero

10154, TORINO

Tom Burr

25 September — 29 October 2008

Tom Burr is the second artist invited by Galleria Franco Noero to tackle the architecture of the historic building designed by Antonelli and known as the “Fetta di Polenta” (literally, “slice of polenta”). This is the American artistʼs second solo exhibition at the gallery.

In Descending, Tom Burr reverses the approach to the building, which is connected on the inside by a flight of stairs, thereby creating a different perception of inside and out. Taken together, the collection of sculptural shapes arranged on the various floors of the Fetta di Polenta suggests an accumulation of presence within the building, emphasizing the upward and downward movements which are necessary for observing both the works and the architecture.

Inspired by themes and gestures of Marcel Duchampʼs work, Tom Burr uses the staircase as a conscious element of reflection in the project. Almost as though they were prostitutes waiting to be looked at and assessed, the sculptures in this work refer back to Duchampʼs “sex machines”: brides, bachelors, and nudes.

The exhibition is arranged in a particular order and orientation, and visitors are invited to go straight up to the top floor and then to see the exhibition in reverse order, from top to bottom. It is only by going into the individual rooms, on the way down, that it is possible to see the sculptures, which can only be glimpsed on the way up.

The works are made with materials such as untreated plywood, raw canvas, and found objects and fabrics, which have been chosen with the architectural surroundings of the rooms in mind. The constructions are arranged in various states of balance, with some vertical and others on the verge of falling, or even lying down, and they are “dressed” and “undressed” to varying degrees by raw canvas, other fabrics, and specially chosen objects which cover or clothe wooden armatures, in a literal reference Duchampʼs nudes.


These shapes appear like large paintings in which the three-dimensional sculptural aspect is intensified. Short texts in neon cling to the structures creating both connections and disconnections between their various parts.

The works are completed by and reflected in the interior of the Fetta di Polenta, which in this case is viewed as an “object” in terms of its shape and personality on the outside, as well as in its relationship with the urban context. The exhibition is thus revealed through the windows of the various floors as though it were a sort of peep show – an attraction to entice the visitor.

The new project space in Piazza Santa Giulia, in which will be featured special projects by artists exhibited in the main gallery venue, will host two new works of the series Bulletin Boards by Tom Burr. These works reveal the importance for the artist of the technique of collage, not only as juxtaposition of fragments, objects and images, but mostly as the methodological approach behind all of the work, layering disparate references and histories onto each other to form a specific view and visual analysis.

Subscription (Esquire) and Chanel Board (stress and violence), 2008, are made with different objects pinned onto black plywood boards: inner sleeves of vinyl lps, mirrors, reproductions of Warholʼs ʻMost Wanted Menʼ, cut outs of advertisements and images from 60ʼs to 80ʼs issues of the magazines Esquire and Life depicting Chanelʼs perfume advertisements, photographs of boxers, and a page from an article on Pablo Picasso.


Tom Burr (New Haven, 1963) lives and works in New York and in Norfolk, Connecticut. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions in public institutions including the Kunstverein Braunschweig (2000), the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2002), the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne (2006), the Long Island Sculpture Center in New York (2008), and FRAC Champagne-Ardenne (2011). He has also taken part in many group exhibitions in institutions such as the Andy Warhol Museum and the Whitney Biennial (2004), the Migros Museum in Zurich (2008), the Kunsthalle in Vienna and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (2009), the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (2013) and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2014).

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