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Artists Gabriel Orozco
Gabriel Orozco Photo

Gabriel Orozco

Mexican-American Sculptor, Photographer, and Conceptual Artist

Movement: Conceptual Art

Born: April 27, 1962 - Jalapa, Mexico

Gabriel Orozco Timeline

Quotes

"The process of living and the process of thinking and perceiving the world happen in everyday life. I've found that sometimes the studio is an isolated place, an artificial place like a bubble - a bubble in which the artist is by himself, thinking about himself. It becomes too grand a space."
Gabriel Orozco
"What happens when you don't have a studio is that you have to be confronted with reality all the time."
Gabriel Orozco
"I believe that a small action or a subtle gesture in life can change many, many things."
Gabriel Orozco
"Photography is more than a window for me. Photography is more like a "space" that tries to capture situations."
Gabriel Orozco
"What I'm after is the liquidity of things, how one things leads you on to the rest... The works are about concentration, intention, and paths of thought: the flow of totality in our perception, the fragmentation of the "river of phenomenon."
Gabriel Orozco
"You see what you understand, You have to be prepared to see the world. The moment of clicking the camera is almost irrelevant. What is really important is what happens before and after you take the picture."
Gabriel Orozco
"My photographs are not just about the instant of movement you capture in the camera. It's much more total, about constant movement that became static."
Gabriel Orozco
"I admire the artists that work everyday to attest things for themselves... In the act of transforming the objects of the everyday they transform the passage of time and analyze the economics and politics of the instruments of living."
Gabriel Orozco

"I try always to intimate with the world... with everything I can, to feel love for it, or interest in it. To be intimate you have to open yourself, to be fearless, to trust what is around you, animate and inanimate. Then you start to change the scale of things, of the public and private."

Synopsis

Gabriel Orozco is a contemporary artist who refuses to stay in one place. Preferring to work and live in various cities around the world, Orozco's art reflects his nomadic experience, choosing to make use of found materials and everyday life while rejecting the isolated studio practice. Pushing the limits of the readymade object, Orozco forces viewers to imagine both unseen and overlooked features of the urban and natural environments around them. At the same time, he pushes the limits of traditional artistic media - such as sculpture, painting, and photography - testing the traditional rules and techniques that artists have adhered to throughout previous generations, questioning their relevance for today's rapidly changing social realities.

Key Ideas

Games are some of the most recurring elements in Orozco's diverse body of art work. From the rules and procedures to the active participation of various players, the main aspects of games provide Orozco with myriad opportunities to challenge the notion that art comes from the divine inspiration or intellectual prowess of a single artist. Using the standards of games and the behaviors of game pieces (chess is a particular favorite) as methods for creative production, Orozco lets these rules be as important as his own creative ideas in the making of his art. In turn, viewers are often implicated in these games, recognizing the familiar qualities within an unfamiliar setting and perhaps even playing along in the redefined context.
Working outside of the traditional art studio is an integral feature of Orozco's work. Orozco embraces the surrounding environment: assembling sculptures from found materials in urban settings or photographing the interactions of people, objects, and natural environments. Orozco compels viewers to reconsider the values we place on the objects and spaces around us, as well as our own expectations about what merits the label of art. His nomadic tendencies fuel his curiosity in the stories that surrounding places and things tell, a curiosity he encourages his audience to share by illustrating new ways to see and comprehend both natural and manmade elements in our collective experience.
Orozco's art clearly builds off of earlier experiments with the "readymade" - a real-world object transformed by its placement within a fine art context. Whereas earlier artists like Marcel Duchamp or Jeff Koons made minimal alterations to readymades, Orozco makes more dramatic, visible changes to the objects themselves. Orozco's additions of intricately drawn patterns onto skeletal remains, for instance, question the definitions and boundaries of the readymade object in sculptural works, as components of previously living beings are now the basis for creative experimentation and design.

Biography

Gabriel Orozco Photo

Childhood

Orozco had a dynamic childhood where dialogue surrounding art and politics dominated conversations in his household. Born in 1962 in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, to the classical pianist Cristina Felix Romandia and the muralist Mario Orozco Rivera, Gabriel was first exposed to modern art in Mexico through his father's art and his work as a professor of art at the Universidad Veracruzana.

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Important Art by Gabriel Orozco

The below artworks are the most important by Gabriel Orozco - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Dos Parejas (Two Couples) (C.1990-91)
Artwork Images

Dos Parejas (Two Couples) (C.1990-91)

Artwork description & Analysis: In this photograph, manmade objects are positioned in two pairs in the foreground, demonstrating the playful quality in Orozco's work when he first experimented with photography. Referring to these pairs of objects as couples, Orozco anthropomorphizes them, leaning them towards one another as if in intimate conversation or contact. Orozco does not hide the materials (wood) and other physical features of these objects, which suggest their use within a construction site or other industrial environment. When confronted with both the title and the image, viewers can at once recognize the inanimate, fabricated essence of the objects in the picture and also imagine more human traits expressed by them too. Viewers are invited to project emotional readings onto the objects, which are usually devoid of such aspects, allowing these photographic subjects to evoke thoughts and feelings without denying their authentic material components.

As curator Ann Temkin suggests, "there is no way to identify a work by Orozco in terms of physical product. Instead it must be discerned through leitmotifs and strategies that constantly recur, but in always mutating forms and configurations." With photography, Orozco used the camera to study his surroundings in a more attentive manner, finding surprising ways to portray commonplace spaces and everyday objects that give them unexpected lives and stories. This investigative strategy carries through much of his early photographs, as does his insistence on the ability of the flat, photographic image to convey an impression of physical weight and volume just as much as a work of sculpture. For Orozco, the photograph is not a document of something else, or a picture of an object, but rather is a complete composition in its own right that can encourage new discoveries and meanings every time it is viewed. Depicting banal items in ways that suggest personal histories or narratives forces the viewer to rethink the documentary role of photography and the lives of ordinary objects at the same time.

Silver dye bleach print - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

La D.S. (C. 1993)
Artwork Images

La D.S. (C. 1993)

Artwork description & Analysis: One of Orozco's more paradoxical works, La DS (pronounced to sound like "la déesse," meaning "goddess" in French) is a Citröen automobile that has been dissected and then reassembled. Indulging a childhood belief that a thinner car would be faster, Orozco systematically removed the middle third of the car over the course of a month in Paris with his artist friend and assistant, Philippe Picoli. The outer thirds were reattached to each other, achieving a cartoonish appearance that provoked both fascination and anxiety. Though sleek, the car lacked an engine, making it impossible to use or control as a traditional car. And though it still contained places for two people to sit inside, the seats were now arranged one behind the other, making for a very cramped, potentially claustrophobic, experience.

The DS model had been a celebrated product of post war France, symbolizing innovation and hope for the future. Exhibiting in Paris, Orozco assumed his audience would recall the popular history of the car, enhancing the effect of his alteration to a recognizable cultural icon. As in much of his sculptural output, Orozco's La DS questions the traditional identity of an object, deactivating its original use and place in society while inviting completely new experiences of it. Viewers were encouraged to touch and explore the sculpture, treating the gallery space as if it were a showroom to facilitate a sale. Orozco teases his viewers by maintaining the essential visual qualities of the car, obscuring any evidence of his personal manipulation of it, but ultimately he forces viewers to understand the impotence of the object in front of them.

Altered Citroen DS - Fonds National d'Art Contemporain, Paris

Horses Running Endlessly (C. 1995)
Artwork Images

Horses Running Endlessly (C. 1995)

Artwork description & Analysis: In this reimagined chessboard, Orozco prompts the viewer to examine the game of chess - its rules, regulations, and patterns - by altering the basic elements of the game's objects and platform in subtle yet significant ways. As Orozco presents it, the board contains 256 squares, four times the amount in a standard chessboard, and includes four different colors of squares instead of the regular two. In addition, the artist has replaced all of the game pieces (knights, pawns, castles, bishops, kings, and queens) with only knights, also known as horses, which are the only pieces that can "jump" over other objects as they move across the board. Orozco not only highlights their unique abilities by removing other types of actors from the chess board, but he also forces viewers to imagine movements that are not visually rendered, effectively asking viewers to engage in completing the art work in their own minds. Though these imaginary movements may be more generally understood through wide familiarly with the game, they are nevertheless intimately personalized as each viewer pictures something different.

Orozco's intervention in the classic game is both physical and psychological: the physical modifications are easily apparent, and the busy arrangement of horses facing all directions within their individual squares offers a humorous and carefree scene. Though the horses are still contained within the little squares and the larger board, they demonstrate a distinct rejection of the traditional constraints they are expected to obey in the context of the game. Orozco here questions the usefulness of traditional situations, subverting certain strict expectations in favor of exploiting particular, inherent features in order to push the limits of what is possible with given skills, talents, and parameters. He challenges viewers to consider whether they are satisfied with the rules and spaces they have become accustomed to, or whether they can imagine new possibilities, using familiar symbols of intellectual acumen to suggest the absurdity of our inherited habits and confines.

Wood board and pawns - The Museum of Modern Art, New York

More Gabriel Orozco Artwork and Analysis:



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Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Gabriel Orozco
Interactive chart with Gabriel Orozco's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Abraham Cruzvillegas
David Alfaro SiqueirosDavid Alfaro Siqueiros
Marcel DuchampMarcel Duchamp
Gordon Matta-ClarkGordon Matta-Clark
Robert SmithsonRobert Smithson

Personal Contacts

Damian Ortega
Gabriel Kuri
Abraham Cruzvillegas

Movements

SurrealismSurrealism
Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
Mexican MuralismMexican Muralism

Influences on Artist
Gabriel Orozco
Gabriel Orozco
Years Worked: 1983 - Present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Damien HirstDamien Hirst
Diana Thater
Brian Jungen

Personal Contacts

Damian Ortega
Alberto Kalach
Philippe Picoli

Movements

Post-conceptualism

Useful Resources on Gabriel Orozco

Videos

Books

Websites

Articles

More

The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing of this page. These also suggest some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.

artworks

Gabriel Orozco

By Ann Temkin and Briony Fer

Gabriel Orozco: Thinking in Circles

By Briony Fer

Gabriel Orozco: Photographs

By Gabriel Orozco and Mia Fineman

Gabriel Orozco: Natural Motion

By Pablo Frost, Maria Minera, Andre Rottmann, Yilmaz Dziewior, and Gabriel Orozco

More Interesting Books about Gabriel Orozco
Man of the World: A Gabriel Orozco Retrospective Recomended resource

By Peter Schjeldahl
The New York Times

Gabriel Orozco Has Given Up Making Art

By Devon Van Houten Maldonado
HyperAllergic

Gabriel Orozco's 'Asterisms' at the Guggenheim is an Exquisite Journey Through the Mundane

By Katherine Brooks
Huffington Post

Gabriel Orozco Receives First Americas Society Culture Award

By David Ebony
ArtNet News

More Interesting Articles about Gabriel Orozco
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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Kate Beaver

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Meggie Morris

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Kate Beaver
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Meggie Morris
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