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Hammer Projects

Tom Marioni

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Tom Marioni

For over forty years, Tom Marioni has been experimenting at the boundaries of art. His first art action—One Second Sculpture (1969) in which he released a coiled metal tape measure into the air and allowed it to fall to the ground—encapsulated Marioni’s desire to eradicate the distinctions between sculpture, music, drawing, and performance by embodying all of the genres at once. A key figure in the invention of Conceptual Art in the 1960s, Marioni’s identity as artist, writer, and curator also defies categorization. In 1970, he founded the Museum of Conceptual Art in San Francisco as a venue to support his own work and that of his friends and colleagues, and he has published his writings in various periodicals and books. Through the decades, Marioni has continued to, in his words, “observe real life and report on it poetically”, amassing a body of work comprised of drawings, prints, actions, and writings that articulate his desire to unite people and ideas. For his Hammer Project, Tom Marioni will present his on-going artwork Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest Form of Art. Along with the bar-like installation and remaining empty Pacifico beer bottles from private gatherings he will host as part of the piece, the exhibition will feature a selection of Marioni’s drawings and ephemera, including two site-specific wall drawings made for the occasion of the exhibition. Organized by Hammer senior curator Anne Ellegood.

Please note that the beer salons held in conjunction with Marioni’s project are by invitation only, in accordance with the wishes of the artist.

 

ESSAY

Hammer Projects: Tom Marioni
By Corrina Peipon

In 1970 Tom Marioni was invited to make an exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California. He asked sixteen friends to come to the museum on a Monday evening, when it was closed. The curator brought enough beer to go around, and everyone “drank and had a good time.” (1) The empty beer bottles, tables, and chairs were left in situ for the run of the exhibition. Rather than a performance, The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends Is the Highest Form of Art (1970) consisted of an action and its evidence. “Since I didn’t want to subject my friends to being performers, the public was not invited. . . . It was an important work for me, because it defined Action rather than Object as art. And drinking beer was one of the things I learned in art school.” (2) At the start of the same year, Marioni had founded the Museum of Conceptual Art (MOCA) in San Francisco, where he presented work by artists—including himself, under the pseudonym Allan Fish—experimenting with new art forms, such as conceptual art, sound art, performance and action art, installation, and video. Open to the public as a nonprofit, membership-driven museum, MOCA presented pioneering exhibitions and projects until 1984. In 1976 Marioni started Café Society, a Wednesday afternoon social club that met at Breen’s Bar, down the street from MOCA, where invited guests assembled to drink beer and talk about art. Evolving out of The Act of Drinking Beer, Café Society was a social artwork that brought people together under contrived circumstances to interact freely. Café Society has continued over the years in various iterations, including video screenings with free beer at MOCA and Marioni’s ongoing weekly Wednesday salons at his studio. More

 

 

Organized by Anne Ellegood, Hammer senior curator.

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