The Line of Wit explores a selection of work from the Guggenheim Museo Bilbao’s permanent collection and long-term loans characterized as humorous, clever, and experimental. Relentlessly inquisitive in nature, these works employ unusual materials and techniques, and many playfully defy social, political, and aesthetic conventions demonstrating ingenuity and wit.

The first gallery of the exhibition focuses on works that engage technology and unorthodox processes such a Yoko Ono’s Hichiko Happo, a work comprised of nine canvases painted during a public performance. The second gallery is comprised of a selection of works that are representational or figurative in nature, displaying the myriad ways in which artists choose to depict their subjects. Works by Antonio Saura, Henri Michaux, and Georg Baselitz present unconventional approaches to portraiture in an expressionistic style. Juan Muñoz’ Shadow and Mouth presents a realistic approach to the human figure through a peculiar theatrical scene that leaves the story up to the imagination of the viewer. The final gallery draws together a selection of abstract works that are experimental in their use of materials or process. Prudencio Irazabal’s signature application of pigment, for example, relies on a custom mix of liquid polymer and pigment to achieve a particularly luminous effect. Rodney Graham’s 2-part work, Film Still relies on the architecture of a corner to implicate the viewer through the mirroring-effect of the highly reflective black canvases that face one another. By approaching the work, the viewer effectively becomes the subject of the film still. Eccentric, intriguing, and humorous, The Line of Wit presents experiments with technology, representation, and process.

Curator: Lekha Hileman Waitoller

Sigmar Polke
Kathreiner’s Morning Wood (Kathreiners Morgenlatte), 1969-79
Acrylic, wood, mixed media, and framed collage on canvas and fabric
230 x 305 cm
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
© Sigmar Polke