Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
June 28–Sept. 9
For his first solo American exhibition, Belgian artist Ives Maes explores the architecture of world’s fair sites as they look today in The Future of Yesterday: Photographs of Architectural Remains at World’s Fairs June 28–Sept. 9 in Bloch Lobby of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. In 16 dramatic photographic sculptures, Maes investigates the effect of time, place and context on the remains of these global events.
“Architecture for world’s fairs was built to disappear,” said Maes. “Everyone works in a frenzy to complete structures for a fair, and then they walk away when it’s over. We need to remember these buildings and these moments in time.”
The Future of Yesterday is held in conjunction with a major international loan and traveling exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins entitled Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs 1851-1939. While Inventing the Modern World examines technological and stylistic innovations, nationalism and cross-cultural inspiration embodied in the decorative arts of the period 1851-1939, The Future of Yesterday provides an alternative view to the utopian vision provided by these global events.
In his elegant sculptures complementing the Bloch Building by world-renowned architect Steven Holl, Maes vividly evokes the sites of the fairs as they are today, sometimes repurposed but often abandoned or out-of-context. Using saturated color, bold composition and large format, Maes invites the viewer to explore the optimistic visions of the fairs and the reality of their present.
“I see beauty in the ruins of these buildings,” said Catherine L. Futter, the Helen Jane and Hugh “Pat” Uhlmann Curator of Decorative Arts at the Nelson-Atkins and co-curator of Inventing the Modern World. “Ives’ work is dedicated to the temporary nature yet enduring impact of the fairs. His visually compelling images and sculptural presentation lead us to examine the condition, context and activities of the sites in the present, yet evoke the magnificent and progressive ideals of these global events.”
Although well-known in Europe, with both solo and group shows in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Mexico, Japan and China, this will be the first solo exhibition of Maes’s work in the United States. Maes is noted for creating installations that provoke viewers to make new connections with ordinary objects.