Biography

Ian Kiaer’s (b.1971, London, UK) work is indebted to histories of painting, sculpture, architecture, literature and theory, but its central interest is repurposing: the waste, recovery and reconstitution of meaning. For over two decades, the artist has utilised found materials as a means to explore the latent legacies of lost ideas, the memories that physical objects preserve and the often-unseen relationships between material things. While the work might present as quiet, propositional and, in the case of Kiaer’s inflatable sculptures, temporary, it is the result of a long-standing inquiry into the ways in which artworks contain and convey both contingent and fragmentary information. As critic Jonathan Griffin writes: ‘Formally and philosophically, he tests the propensity of things to hold together, to prise apart or to float irredeemably away from one another. The conclusion he arrives at, more often than not, is the latter.’

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The creative explication of reuse is central to Kiaer’s project. He has repurposed foam packaging, Korean bin-liners and sweet wrappers; fluorescent tubing and scratched Perspex screens lifted from bus shelters. When Kiaer disassembled Endnote, a vast inflatable work that was installed between Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris and Palais de Tokyo in 2020, he donated the light pink plastic to an architectural school to ensure that it was reprocessed once more. But while Kiaer is interested in the physical legacies that these timeworn materials introduce, his research into the art of reclamation has conceptual foundations. ‘The idea that one makes something from scratch is always false’, Kiaer says. ‘When making, you are involved in a conversation, you are taking up what someone else has already said and developing it. In this way, reuse can be a form of listening to what has been as well as what is.’ As such, Kiaer’s reanimations of ‘old’ things (and, in the case of the 2014 installation Tooth House, ceiling, prior works) are at once tributes to the historical discussions and gestures that facilitate his own practice and implicit critiques of the very notion of the ‘new’. ‘In one way’, says Kiaer, ‘all my work is a revision of ideas and things’.

This interest in return, reinterpretation and the incompleteness of influence accounts for Kiaer’s frequent employment of cardboard maquettes. For Kiaer, the architectural model can exist in three different states (representational, experimental, propositional) and, as such, can occupy three different tenses at once (past, present, future). In this way, it stands as an inherently in-between object: a means of ‘revisiting and rethinking and experimenting and then presenting, again, for the future’, the artist notes. Kiaer’s faith in the conceptual potential of the model has led him to reference and respond to such architectural luminaries as Peter de Bretteville, Aldo Rossi and, most notably, Frederick Kiesler, whose research into the ‘Tooth House’, an integrated residence designed in the late 1940s, lent its name to Kiaer’s 2014 exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds. In revisiting and reappraising the provisional designs of these architects via his own maquettes, Kiaer encourages a broader reconsideration of the propositional potential of the art object itself, while also alluding to the manner in which all creative gestures are inseparable from one another. As art historian Fabrice Hergott writes in Kiaer’s 2020 monograph, Endnote, tooth: ‘He makes us experience the presence of death in existence, and the presence of life in what no longer exists.’

Considering the status of the architectural model in relation to Kiaer’s practice, Griffin writes: ‘It travels between an idea and the concretization of the idea, whether it has already taken place or is yet to come. It is physically light, transportable and schematic. It need not be finely crafted – in fact, speed is often a prerequisite of its construction.’ It could be said that movement, transience and lightness are at once the foundational materials of Kiaer’s work and its central theoretical concerns. Nowhere is this more evident than in the ongoing series of inflatables, many of which are brought into existence by an electric fan only to be deflated once more. (In the case of Endnote, limb, the monumental inflatable installed between the Musee d’Art Moderne and the Palais de Tokyo, the work was deflated after 30 minutes with a Stanley knife). By virtue of their abundant temporariness, the inflatables embody a duality that pervades so much of Kiaer’s work: these are aspirational forms that are destined to fail; gestures to the future that are bound to one day reside in the past. As academic Robert Harbison writes of Kiaer’s project, ‘the work is fundamentally about ways of living in a world that has definitively come to pieces’. But it is also about acknowledging that ‘in pieces’ is the only way to live: between past, present and future, interacting with the pieces of others that are doing the same.

Kiaer has had solo exhibitions at Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg, Germany (2020); Kunsthalle Lingen, Germany (2019); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (2017–2018); Neubauer Collegium, Chicago, US (2016); Lulu, Mexico City, Mexico (2015); Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK (2014); Centre International de l’art et du Paysage, Vassivière, France (2013); Kunstverein Munich, Germany (2010); and GAM, Turin, Italy (2009).

His work has been included in group show at GAK, Bremen, Germany (2020); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2019); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (2019); Modern Art Oxford, UK (2018); MUDAM, Luxembourg (2013); Tate Britain, London, UK (2012); and Tate Modern, London, UK (2012). In 2018, he was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize.

Kiaer’s work is held in major international museums including: Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, Italy; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, US; Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany; and Tate, London, UK.

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Works

Endnote limb, 2020

Recycled PVC
5000 x 2300 x 1200 cm (1968 1/2 x 905 1/2 x 472 1/2 in)
Courtesy: Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris © Ian Kiaer; photo: Laura Egger

Endnote, Marder (blue), 2020

Acrylic, varnish, pencil behind repurposed plexiglas
150.5 x 236 cm (59 1/4 x 92 7/8 in)
Courtesy: © Ian Kiaer

Endnote, ping (de Bretteville/Asimov), 2019

Model: wood, plastic and cardboard; inflatable: plastic, fan, speaker, mini projector, media player and film
16 x 122 x 39 cm (6 1/4 x 48 1/8 x 15 3/8 in); 70 x 180 x 50 cm (27 1/2 x 70 7/8 x 19 3/4 in)
Courtesy: Base / Progetti per l’arte © Ian Kiaer; photo: Leonardo Morfini

Endnote, ping (marder/pink), 2019

Pencil, acrylic, varnish and ink on linen
81.1 x 61 cm (31 7/8 x 24 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Ian Kiaer

Endnote, ping (marder), 2019

Acrylic, pencil on paper, Plexiglas, canvas, fish tank, plant, water and lights
Dimensions variable: perspex: 129.8 x 76.5 x 0.8 cm (51 1/8 x 30 1/8 x 1/4 in); canvas: 86.4 x 66.4 x 2 cm (34 1/8 x 26 1/8 x 3/4 in); fish tank: 48 x 43 x 26 cm (18 7/8 x 16 7/8 x 10 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Ian Kiaer

Black tulip, glasshouse, 2012

Pencil, acrylic, tape, canvas, taffeta, lighting gel, perspex, polystyrene, cardboard, plastic. copper wire, projection screen, slide projector and 35mm slide
Drawing: 121.9 x 91.4 cm (48 x 36 in); projector screen: 137.2 x 129.5 cm (54 x 51 in); polystyrene: 61 x 80 cm (24 x 31 1/2 in); model: 29.8 x 54.6 x 30.5 cm (11 3/4 x 21 1/2 x 12 in)
Courtesy: © Ian Kiaer

Endnote Ledoux (black), 2016

Paper, Plexiglass and rubber
Dimensions variable
Courtesy: © Ian Kiaer

Endnote, tooth, 2017

Dimensions variable
Each panel: 124 x 183 cm (48 7/8 x 72 1/8 in); inflatable: 400 x 200 x 180 cm (157 1/2 x 78 3/4 x 70 7/8 in)
Courtesy: Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris © Ian Kiaer; photo: Pierre Antoine

a.r. petit atelier, 2013

Slide projectors, cardboard, plexiglas, cellular concrete, plastic and silver leaf
Plastic with silver leaf: 400 x 300 cm (157 1/2 x 118 1/8 in); projection screen: 235 x 260 cm (92 1/2 x 102 3/8 in); projector table: 102 x 38 x 28 cm (40 1/8 x 15 x 11 1/8 in); Ando Rossi model: dimensions variable
Courtesy: © Ian Kiaer

Endnote Tooth, Blue, 2018

Plexiglass, acrylic, varnish, paper and pencil
102.5 x 64.5 cm (40 3/8 x 25 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Ian Kiaer

a.r. salles des études., 2013

Paper, Plexiglas, rubber and aluminium
Paper (overall, dimensions variable): 343 x 406 cm (135 1/8 x 159 7/8 in); Plexiglas (overall, dimensions variable): 343 x 406 cm (135 1/8 x 159 7/8 in); rubber matt: 216 x 143 cm (85 1/8 x 56 1/4 in); model: 34 x 40 cm (13 3/8 x 15 3/4 in); rubber band (diameter): 70 cm (27 1/2 in); rubber ball (diameter): 20 cm (7 7/8 in)
Courtesy: © Ian Kiaer

Endnote Tooth, Silver II, 2018

Acrylic, ink, pencil, silver leaf and varnish on paper, Plexiglas and cardboard
Individual: 177.8 x 118.2 cm (70 x 46 1/2 in); overall: 178.8 x 240 cm (70 1/8 x 94 1/2 in)
Courtesy: © Ian Kiaer

Melnikov project, screen, 2011

Acrylic on taffeta, acetate, pencil and cement
Painting: acrylic on taffeta 200 x 140 cm (78 3/4 x 55 1/8 in); model 1: acetate, cardboard, pencil, 64 x 42 x 46 cm (25 1/4 x 16 1/2 x 18 1/8 in); model 2: cardboard, acetate, cement, 50 x 25 x 21 cm (19 3/4 x 9 7/8 x 8 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Ian Kiaer

  • Endnote limb, 2020
  • Endnote, Marder (blue), 2020
  • Endnote, ping (de Bretteville/Asimov), 2019
  • Endnote, ping (marder/pink), 2019
  • Endnote, ping (marder), 2019
  • Black tulip, glasshouse, 2012
  • Endnote Ledoux (black), 2016
  • Endnote, tooth, 2017
  • a.r. petit atelier, 2013
  • Endnote Tooth, Blue, 2018
  • a.r. salles des études., 2013
  • Endnote Tooth, Silver II, 2018
  • Melnikov project, screen, 2011

Press

Review: Ian Kiaer, BASE Progetti per l’Arte

Sophie Barling, The Florentine

September 2019

Review: Ian Kiaer, Neubauer Collegium

Luke Filder, Newcity Art

March 2016

Review: Ian Kiaer, Focal Point

Sophie Sleigh-Johnson, This Is Tomorrow

September 2014

Review: Ian Kiaer, Henry Moore Institute

Martin Holman, Art Monthly

June 2014

Review: Ian Kiaer, Henry Moore Institute

Daniel Potts, Aesthetica

April 2014

Review: Ian Kiaer, Vassivière

Rahma Khazam, frieze

September 2013

Review: Ian Kiaer, Vassivière

Chris Fite-Wassilak, ArtReview

July 2013

Review: Ian Kiaer, Alison Jacques Gallery

Mark Prince, Art in America

March 2013

An Overwrought Romance

Ian Kiaer, Kaleidoscope

September 2011

From Room to Room

Jonathan Griffin, frieze

June 2010

Review: Ian Kiaer, Bloomberg Space

Gilda Williams, Artforum

April 2010

Review: Ian Kiaer, Bloomberg Space

Eliza Williams, Art Monthly

February 2010

Artist of the Week: Ian Kiaer

Skye Sherwin, The Guardian

December 2009

Top Ten: Ian Kiaer

Ian Kiaer, Artforum

October 2009

Review: Ian Kiaer, Alison Jacques Gallery

J.J. Charlesworth, ArtReview

January 2008

Kiaer in the Community Works Wonders

Charles Darwent, The Independent

November 2007

Review: Ian Kiaer, Alison Jacques Gallery

Sandra Rehme, Artforum

November 2007

Exhibitions

Ian Kiaer: Endnote, ping

1 February9 March 2019

Books

Ian Kiaer: Endnote, tooth

Archive Books

2020

Ian Kiaer: Tooth House

Henry Moore Institute

2014

Ian Kiaer

Aspen Art Museum

2012

Ian Kiaer: WHAT WHERE

Archive Books, Turin/Berlin

2009

Ian Kiaer: Endless House Projects

British School of Rome

2005

News

Ian Kiaer

in ‘Was machen Sie um zwei?’, GAK, Bremen

Ian Kiaer: endnote (ping)

Heidelberger Kunstverein

Sheila Hicks & Ian Kiaer

in ‘Nuit Blanche 2020’, Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris

Ian Kiaer

in ‘YOU’, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Ian Kiaer: endnote, ping.

Kunsthalle Lingen

Ian Kiaer: Endnote, ping, murmer

BASE / Progetti per l’Arte, Florence

Ian Kiaer

in ‘Back in Five’, Chiado8, Grupo Fidelidade, Lisbon

Ian Kiaer awarded Philip Leverhulme Prize

Kiaer will develop research on the Monsanto restaurant in Lisbon

Ian Kiaer

in ‘We stared at the Moon from the centre of the Sun’, Towner Art Gallery, Sussex

Ian Kiaer: Endnote, tooth

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Ian Kiaer

in ‘Strange Days’, Le Plateau, Paris

Ian Kiaer: Endnote, Ledoux

The Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, Chicago

Ian Kiaer: Tooth House

Focal Point, Southend-on-Sea

Ian Kiaer: Tooth House

Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

Ian Kiaer

Centre International d’Art et du Paysage, Vassiviére