Other examples from the series are in the collections of the Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, León; Burger Collection, Hong Kong; Jumex Collection, Mexico City; Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la création, Paris; Glenn Fuhrman Collection, New York and the Nerman Family Collection, USA.
Poetry is an essential element of Ugo Rondinone's art. The 2nd Hour of the Poem, consisting of a larger than life-sized light bulb comes from the series The Night of Lead, a complex and melancholic artistic experience that reflects Rondinone's fascination with dreams, poetry and the everyday of the human condition. Taking its name from the novel Die Nacht aus Blei by the German Expressionist writer Hans Henny Jahn, The Night of Lead is a kind of Gesamtkunstwerk of art in which a man roams alone through a nocturnal city and has various existential experiences. During his stroll, the man encounters a younger version of himself on the brink of death. His adult self guides his younger self until, with the arrival of the dawn, the latter dies.
In his recreation of the tale, Rondinone staged atmospheric experiential areas consisting of trees, mirrors, windows, doors, masks, clowns and light bulbs which illuminate nothing. The viewer/participant has no choice but to engage in alternative ways of perceiving images and their own concepts of time and temporality.
The use of the light bulb, perhaps more than any other object in the installation, pays homage not only to the Gods of Minimalism, but to the Grandfather of Conceptual art, Marcel Duchamp, whose usage of ordinarily manufactured objects selected and modified by the artist functioned as an antidote to "retinal art." This commonplace industrial object was also a recurring subject for Jasper Johns and it formed a symbolic bridge between Marcel Duchamp's ready-mades, Abstract Expressionism, and the burgeoning Pop art trend. Johns' extended inquiry reveals the artist's intention to go beyond the simple representation of an object to investigate how we perceive, and categorize objects in a broader cultural context. Rondinone takes this approach to the object one step further, imbibing the wax structure with poetry and meaning so that the closer one approaches the truth, the further away we become. Encountering The 2nd Hour of the Poem we are more conscious of our surroundings and simultaneously more distant from the everyday world as we enter a sheltered, sacred space for art.