To Die Upon A Kiss

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Object Name: 
To Die Upon A Kiss
Accession Number: 
Overall H: about 178 cm, Diam (max): about 174 cm
On Display
Web Description: 
In 2003, the conceptual artist Fred Wilson was chosen to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale, a prestigious international art exposition. In his exhibition, Wilson aimed to restore the invisible influence of Africa in the art and culture of Venice, a historic crossroads of cultures. The material that he chose to work in was glass, traditional to Venice and marginalized in contemporary art. After the Biennale, Wilson continued to work in glass. “It turned out that [glass] was a very good vehicle for me intellectually, as well as sculpturally,” Wilson notes.* His chandeliers refer to a specific cultural and historical period and “reveal my desire to recast that era to include those like me, whose ancestors were not perceived to be a part of that moment in time.” The title, To Die Upon a Kiss, quotes the final words of Othello in Shakespeare’s tragedy. But the work is more “a rumination on death, or . . . the slow ebb of life,” Wilson says. “The chandelier’s color changes from clear and light glass at the top . . . to opaque black at the bottom with deliberate gradations of grey in between . . . a visual evocation of the fluidity, inconsistency, and fragility of the notion of race.” Published: Johanna Burton and Anne Ellegood, Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology, Los Angeles: Hammer Museum, and Munich and London: Delmonico Books/Prestel, 2014, p. 175; Oldknow (39), pp. 224–225; Kobena Mercer and Reto Thüring, Fred Wilson: Works, 2004–2011, Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2012, pp. 12–13 and 18; and Fred Wilson, Fred Wilson—Venice Suite: Sala Longhi and Related Works, New York: The Pace Gallery, 2012. A.P. 1 from an edition of 6 + 2 artist proofs * Quotations are from Fred Wilson, “The First One’s Free! Drip, Drop, Plop,” The Glass Art Society 2012 Journal, 2013, pp. 38–40.
Pace Gallery LLC, Source
Primary Description: 
Chandelier, "To Die Upon A Kiss". Colorless, blackish, and black glasses, electrical fittings; blown and hot-worked glass, assembled. Colorless, blackish, and black glasses; blown and hot-worked at the furnace, assembled. Sculpture in the form of a large, two-tiered, Baroque-style chandelier.
Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology
Hammer Museum of Art 2014-02-09 through 2014-05-18
Fred Wilson: Works 2004-2011
Cleveland Museum of Art
An American conceptual artist born in the Bronx in 1954, Fred Wilson is also a political activist. A central question in Fred Wilson's artistic practice is: How is it possible to pose critical questions about museum practices within a museum itself? Through site-specific art interventions in collaboration with museums and cultural institutions, Wilson has developed a strategy of infiltrating institutional structures. Yet even in his non-installation, autonomous works, Wilson’s stance is clear: He attempts to undermine the discourse-determining status of cultural institutions, almost from the inside out, by employing those institutions’ own vocabularies, concepts, and methods. His installation in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s glass box gallery brings together four different works by Wilson, giving a representative overview of his highly influential and diverse practice. The sculpture The Mete of the Muse (2006) juxtaposes the contradictions that point out the blind spots in a hegemonic understanding of culture and history. To Die Upon a Kiss (2011) also speaks to the realization that culture is almost never homogenous and that cultural history seldom takes a linear course. The presence in and influence of African culture on the city of Venice finds eloquent expression in the form of a chandelier made of Murano glass, which transitions from luminosity and transparency to opacity and obfuscation on the underside of the blackened glass. The sculpture Ota Benga (2008) references a different confrontation between two cultures, one with far sadder consequences. In this work Wilson goes beyond retelling the story of the horrific treatment of an African man, calling attention to how museums and other cultural institutions not only display but also contribute to the discussion of conventional ideas and paradigms. The majority of Wilson’s artistic interventions and gestures can be described as minimal, but it is precisely from this that they derive their actual power. The 35 flags (untitled (Flags), 2009) of the African and African diaspora nations that hang on the only wall of the glass box gallery are completely colorless. Only outlines are drawn in black on the bare canvas. The empty spaces indicated by the missing colors also point to the blind spots in our own perceptions.
Fred Wilson - Venice Suite: Sala Longhi and Related Works
Pace Gallery LLC
MacArthur “Genius Award” recipient Fred Wilson’s first major solo exhibition in New York City since 2006 features , a room-sized installation comprised of twenty-seven paintings made of black Murano glass, which reference Pietro Longhi’s 18th-century painting cycle in the “Sala Longhi” in the Palazzo ca’ Rezzonico in Venice. Wilson’s was installed in Glasstress during the 2011 Venice Biennale. This is the first time that it will be shown in the United States. Sala LonghiSala Longhi
Das Corning Museum of Glass: Ein Streifzug durch die Sammlung zeitgenössischen Glases (2017) illustrated, p. 8 (bottom); BIB# AI103990
Recent Important Acquisitions (New Glass Review 36) (2015) illustrated, p. 127 (middle); BIB# AI99415
The Corning Museum of Glass: Notable Acquisitions 2014 (2015) illustrated, pp. 60-61 (#42); BIB# AI100547
The Corning Museum of Glass Annual Report 2014 (2014) illustrated, pp. 4, 9 (top); BIB# 706293
Take It or Leave It: institution, image, ideology (2014) illustrated, pp. 175, 272; BIB# 141111
A Day at the Museum (2013-10) illustrated, p. 49;
Fred Wilson's Black Beauty (2013) illustrated, p. 37; BIB# AI93958
Fred Wilson: Works 2004-2011 (2012) illustrated, pp. 12-13, 18;