Art fairs

ART BASEL 2016: JANNIS KOUNELLIS - To invent on the Spot, 1972: Basel

Stand C1, 16 - 19 June 2016

Performance of Da inventare sul posto at Documenta V in 1972. Photo © Paulo Mussat Sator. © 2016 DACS, London / SIAE, Rome 

Performances daily: 11.30, 13.30. 15.30, 17.30

(additional performance at 19.30 on preview days, Tuesday and Wednesday) 


Luxembourg & Dayan is pleased to present in the Art Basel 2016 Feature section a restaging of Jannis Kounellis’ historic work Da inventare sul posto (To Invent on the Spot), 1972. A hybrid of painting and performance, this work, which debuted at Documenta 5 (1972), consists of an abstract painting of pink loose brushstrokes featuring bars of music – a passage of Igor Stravinsky’s score for La Pulcinella (1920) – along with a violinist and a ballerina. The violinist, standing to one side of the painting, plays the short musical sequence as the ballerina improvises a dance in front of the work. Both violinist and ballerina then repeat the score and the impromptu choreography over and over again in a loop.


Stravinsky’s score, comprising a wild compilation of fragments of music by other composers, was originally commissioned for Sergei Diagehilev’s production of the Ballets Russes at the Paris Opera. With Da inventare sul posto, Kounellis references and subverts this history. Like Stravinsky sampling materials that were not his own, Kounellis here removes himself as the sole author of the work of art and opens it up to collaboration. Departing from predetermined choreography, the work engages the realm of chance, invention, and improvisation. Kounellis extends his composition into the space occupied by his viewer, unmooring it from knowability. Each of the work’s iterations is different, so that it can never be perceived in the same way twice. 


Kounellis’ wide-ranging body of work found a common thread with the artistic movement that came to be known as Arte Povera. It grew out of, and responded directly to, a new material culture that emerged in post-war Italy. Da inventare sul posto reveals the major preoccupations of Kounellis’ entire acclaimed practice: a wish to explore anew the possibilities of traditional mediums by re-entering them with the faculties of the body, and a deep desire to synthesize history and contemporary life. Following its premiere at Documenta 5, Da inventare sul posto was presented as part of Kounellis’ first solo exhibition in the United States, which took place at Sonnabend Gallery in New York City in 1972. The work has also been presented in several museum exhibitions devoted to Kournellis’ career. 


Luxembourg & Dayan presents curated, museum-quality exhibitions of works by modern and contempo- rary artists across gallery spaces in New York and London. Since opening in 2009, Luxembourg & Dayan has held a number of critically-acclaimed exhibitions, ranging from historical surveys of artists, such as Alberto Giacometti, Alberto Burri and Domenico Gnoli, to thematic shows including Shaped Canvas, Revisited and Grisaille