Roni Horn (B. 1955)
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTION
Roni Horn (B. 1955)

When Dickinson Shut her Eyes: no. 641 – Size Circumscribes - It Has no Room

Roni Horn (B. 1955)
When Dickinson Shut her Eyes: no. 641 – Size Circumscribes - It Has no Room
aluminium and black plastic casts, in eight parts
each ranging from: 41 ¾ x 2 x 2 1/8in. (106 x 5.1 x 5.4cm.) to 70 3/8 x 2 x 2 1/8in. (178.4 x 5.1 x 5.4cm.)
overall installation dimensions variable

Executed in 1993-2008, this work is number one from an edition of three plus one artist's proof
Galerie Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007.
New York, Hauser & Wirth, Serialities, 2017 (another from the edition exhibited).
Special notice

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Brought to you by

Alexandra Werner
Alexandra Werner

Lot Essay

Size circumscribes—it has no room
For petty furniture—
The Giant tolerates no Gnat
For Ease of Gianture—
Repudiates it, all the more—
Because intrinsic size
Ignores the possibility
Of Calumnies—or Flies.
–Emily Dickinson

Roni Horn’s sculptural composition, When Dickinson Shut her Eyes: no. 641 – Size Circumscribes – It Has no Room, is comprised of eight slender, three-dimensional columns, propped against a wall and presented in a linear arrangement. Executed in 1993, this is an exemplary work from Horn’s extensive oeuvre. Part of a broader homage to the nineteenth-century American poet Emily Dickinson, the series of columns – identical in volume yet divergent in height – are built from aluminium, and emblazoned with lettering rendered in black plastic. From certain vantage points these come together to form one of the prolific poet’s untitled poems, identified only as ‘no. 641’ of almost 1,800 produced during her lifetime (though these remained largely private until after her death). At other angles the letters blend or blur, distorting to form an echo in mirror writing or else conjuring the appearance of indistinguishable lines and marks. The length of each rod becomes itself dictated by the length of each phrase from Dickinson’s eight-line poem, creating a kind of visual-verbal synthesis of rhythm: ‘I think in terms of syntax if not quite of grammar;’ Horn explains, ‘of phrasing, leitmotif, chorus – the tools of language structures – which then take a visual form in the work’ (R. Horn, quoted in Roni Horn, London 2000, p. 22).
Uniquely, this is the only one of Horn’s Dickinson-inspired compositions to encompass one of Dickinson’s poems in its entirety, distinguishing it among one of her most sought-after bodies of work. Working in a period where sculpture was rethinking notions of space and the condition of the viewer, and in the legacy of Minimalism, Horn places the spectator not as a passive observer but as a complement of the work, which awaits completion through the act of reading. Both drawn to the heightened sensibility manifest in Dickinson’s poetry, and identifying with her notably reclusive and insular existence, Horn chose to follow in Dickinson’s footsteps by moving to Iceland and installing her studio in perfect isolation. ‘In her room alone,’ Horn wrote of Dickinson, ‘was freedom. Here she wrote one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five poems. Dickinson shut her eyes and went places this world never was’ (R. Horn, quoted in Roni Horn aka Roni Horn, exh. cat., Tate Modern, London 2009, p. 52). In this poignant work, Horn encapsulates such freedom, born of reflective solitude.

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