Dennis Oppenheim: The Assembly Line
ON VIEW: January 25—July 2, 2023
A machine is a perfect way to describe the mind.
- Dennis Oppenheim
Throughout his long career, Dennis Oppenheim explored a myriad of art practices: conceptual art, land art, body art, performance, and public art. Contemporary to other major American artists who grew out of the minimalist school that emerged in the late sixties, by the 1980s he had begun creating immersive sculptures.
The Assembly Line (with By-Products from a Mechanical Trance) is part of Oppenheim’s “Factory Series,” in which elaborate systems of industrial imagery become metaphors for mental activity, giving physical form to creative impulses and other cerebral processes. The physical breaks, traps, and stoppages along the industrial lines signify the mental blocks and contradictions inherent in creative thought. His work encompasses both the compulsive manufacture of notions and the cathartic alchemy of inspiration when ideas become artwork and transfer the artist’s meaning to another’s mind.
One of the largest sculptures in the permanent collection, The Assembly Line (with By-Products from a Mechanical Trance) was donated to the Neuberger Museum of Art by Warner Communications Inc. It was first exhibited at the Neuberger in 1984 and most recently in 2006.
This exhibition is organized by the Neuberger Museum of Art and curated by Patrice Giasson, Alex Gordon Curator of Art of the Americas, and Jacqueline Shilkoff, Curator of New Media and Director of Digital Initiatives. Generous financial support for this exhibition has been provided by the Roy R. Neuberger Legacy Endowment.