The confluence of minimalism and conceptual art is clear throughout “The Panza Collection” at the Hirshhorn, but the connection is epitomized in Joseph Kosuth’s Box, Cube, Empty Clear, Glass—A Description. Five large glass cubes rest aligned on the floor, sharp and orderly, as minimalist as can be. What makes them conceptual—and, no doubt, what attracted Italian collector Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo to purchase the piece—are the title words, one labeled on each box. The approach is unfussy and explanatory, separate but equal, different but the same. Count Panza’s collection of modern art, acquired by scoping out rising stars at a young age and scooping up as much of their work as possible, has been coveted by museums across the world; the 39 pieces by 16 different artists that the Hirshhorn purchased last year help round out the museum’s collection, which previously had neglected conceptual and minimalist art. The works value methodology as a theme, evidenced in Hanne Darboven’s ceaseless calculations breaking down each day of the year, or Jan Dibbets photographing the shortest day of the year at a six-minute interval. Language, form, and their intersection is another common theme in the works, which were all produced in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Many pieces are are serious, but those with something of a sense of humor, like a work of light art by Kosuth that spells out “self-defined” in neon, keep the big ideas grounded.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW FROM 10 A.M. TO 5:30 P.M. DAILY TO JAN. 11, 2009, AT THE HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN, INDEPENDENCE AVE. AND 7TH ST. SW. FREE. (202) 633-4674.