Nairy Baghramian: Jupon de Corps

Exhibition Guide The Aspen Art Museum is pleased to present Jupon de Corps, a major solo exhibition by Nairy Baghramian that brings together significant constellations of artworks made over the past decade for the first time.

June 22–October 22, 2023

Nairy Baghramian: Jupon de Corps

Aspen Art Museum

The Aspen Art Museum presents Jupon de Corps , a solo exhibition by Nairy Baghramian that brings together significant artworks made over the past decade. Displayed across two floors, the exhibition establishes a personal and poetic dialogue amongst key works from the artist’s output, alongside a new body of sculptures specially conceived for the museum’s outdoor commons. Jupon de Corps brings to the fore foundational aspects of Baghramian’s practice, such as the artist’s sustained dialogue with art historical traditions of the twentieth century including Surrealism and Minimalism; her ongoing interest in expressions of bodily attitudes; the social and psychological charge of prosthetic and mechanical apparatuses deployed in physiognomic corrections; as well as her tireless experimentation with a wide array of materials, ranging from steel to silicon, resin, leather, wax, and wood. Baghramian reconsiders sculpture’s modes of production and institutional display by combining formal and material languages from the realms of art, design, technology, and nature. At the Aspen Art Museum, works of different materials and scale populate the galleries, creating intimate and at times uncanny atmospheres animated by fragmented forms that evoke bodily environments and junctures, and suggest different states of matter. The exhibition’s title borrows from a French expression that roughly translates to “petticoat,” a light undergarment worn beneath a skirt or dress. Its structure and silkiness carry a rich array of symbolic associations that evoke the idea of a layer, or a border, in an anthropomorphic context. Covering up and building out parts of the body, in direct contact with the skin, a petticoat suggests both intimacy and privacy. By extension, it speaks to the relational charge of a gaze seeking to reach beyond a given boundary. In her work B 75, BH, Mod. NB, Ref. CO, MM (2012)—a nod to Claes Oldenburg’s Ghost Wardrobe (for M. M.) (1967)— two large concrete hangers carry stringy rubber spirals forming a pair of bras. Brightly colored and playfully oversized, the eye-catching lingerie conjures a human figure that is absent yet implied in the mechanics of seduction and government of bodily forms. As often with Baghramian’s works, many of the sculptures appear in clusters, establishing visual and physical connections between each other and with the existing infrastructure of the museum

space. Slip of the Tongue (2015) implicates the formal conventions of exhibition display through the use of a raised platform and a large glass vitrine to showcase a trio of unclassifiable appendices. The newly commissioned outdoor sculptures, a continuation of Baghramian’s Sitzengeblieben (Stay Downers) characters, are cast in a palette of candy colors and animate the walkway with their relaxed, friendly demeanor and bulbous shapes. Hanging within the stairwell, Headgear (2016) forms part of a broader investigation into dynamics of constriction and release, particularly within the corrective mechanisms of dental devices. Similar orthodontic tension is further deployed in the galleries, through the curved lines of Chin Up (First Fitting) and in the Scruff of the Neck series (all 2016), whose modular elements in plaster and aluminum allude to the dental technology as the mouth’s interior décor, forcing its parts into place. Idea, language, and form are inextricably linked in Baghramian’s sculptures. Her works stage and connect different meanings, functions, and symbologies associated with the architecture of the body and its potential transformations— desired or imposed. Two works from the series Maintainers call attention to the mechanisms that physically hold the pieces together, balancing strength and fragility—a principle echoed in the closely-spaced segments in aluminum and synthetic resin that make up French Curve (2014), titled after the technical template used to draw smooth curves in tailoring. This large, floor-based piece sits on a leisurely horizontal axis, conjuring up the image of a dutiful backbone finally afforded some rest. Playfully engaging with different densities and postures—leaning, standing, bracing against, stretching through walls—the artworks reflect on proximity as a spatial condition of both intimacy and necessity, and authority and vulnerability. Altogether, these works establish a conversation on the principle of improvement through constriction, and a pressure toward the optimization of the self. Their liminal nature tests the borders of possible transformations occurring in the body in both its exterior and interior expressions and complexities.

—Stella Bottai, 2023

List of works

First Floor







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Second Floor















1 Formage de Tête (Maître Faux) , 2016 C-print (framed) 65 3/8 × 52 1/8 × 2 1/8 in A photograph of a chef’s body greets visitors upon entering the museum. Formage de Tête literally means “molding of a head,” and is a pun on fromage de tête , a French recipe equivalent to head cheese in which the flesh of a calf, or pig, is set in aspic. Baghramian proposes a kinship between the creative acts of cooking and sculpting. Belonging to a larger photographic series under the same title, Formage de Tête (Maître Faux) encapsulates much of the conceptual acuity, sly humor, and formal inventiveness of Baghramian’s practice. This culinary allegory finds companionship in Gorge (triple bend) (2017), installed a few steps away.

4a Maintainers D , 2018

The genealogy of Jupon Réassemblé begins with the sculpture Jupon de Corps , the titular work of this exhibition produced by Baghramian two years

Casted aluminum, painted aluminum, cork, styrofoam, pigmented paraffin wax 57 1/8 × 78 3/4 × 110 1/4 in

earlier. As its title suggests, the sculpture’s bent metal rods are

reassembled, acknowledging a history of being pulled apart and joined back together. Loosely reminiscent of the curved understructure of crinolines, Jupon Réassemblé here stretches through the gallery wall, a spidery body commanding the architecture of this room. 7a Chin Up (First Fitting A), 2016 2 parts, waxed wood, polished and

4b Maintainers B , 2018

Casted aluminum, painted aluminum, cork, styrofoam, pigmented paraffin wax 58 1/4 × 100 3/8 × 130 in Maintainers B and D belong to a larger body of work that explores the process of creating a sculpture. Each piece is constructed of three interdependent elements commonly used in casting— aluminum, colored wax forms, and painted lacquer braces with cork mounts. The sculpture literally comes in pieces, bound by an active and reciprocal relationship. They balance and hold each other up. This, however, is a fragile kinship as the aluminum slowly wears on the deteriorating wax. 5a Breath Holding Spell , 2018 Cast and powder coated aluminum 40 1/8 × 27 1/2 × 33 1/2 in 5b Breathing Spell , 2017 Cast and powder coated aluminum 16 1⁄2 × 17 × 13 in 5c Breath Holding Spell , 2018 Cast and powder coated aluminum 40 1/8 × 27 1/2 × 33 1/2 in 5d Breath Holding Spell , 2018 Cast and powder coated aluminum 40 1/8 × 27 1/2 × 33 1/2 in Located in different rooms of the exhibition, directly attached to the gallery walls close to the ground, the assertive, figurative volumes of these works introduce a spatial punctuation amongst the other artworks, while their discrete white coating subtly folds them into white gallery space. Their ambiguous function suggests they might be pure décor. But as their title indicates, Baghramian also considers these forms oxygen tanks, emphasizing the liveness of museums and exhibitions as beings in need of breath.

lacquered aluminum 48 × 33 1/2 × 31 1/2 in 130 x 43 1/4 x 39 3/8 in

7b Chin Up (First Fitting C), 2016 2 parts; Waxed wood, polished and

2 Gorge (triple bend), 2017

lacquered aluminum 63 × 177 1/8 × 31 1/2 in 109 3/8 × 48 × 34 1/4 in

polished and sanded aluminum, glass, epoxy resin, polyurethane foam, fabric, silicon 50 3/8 × 46 1⁄8 × 15 in In her titles, Baghramian deploys words to complement the forms of her sculptures. In the case of this work, a gorge is a narrow valley between mountains, which seems particularly fitting in the bucolic context of Aspen. As a verb, it points to the action of eating with greed. Gorge, colloquially, also stands for “gorgeous”– a word for exceptional beauty. Baghramian’s work has been described in terms of ambivalent abstraction, a term that seems appropriate as we interrogate what kind of landscape was framed here. 3 B 75, BH, Mod. NB, Ref. CO, MM , 2012 Stainless steel, concrete, plaster, cotton thread, rubber 65 × 19 1/4 × 4 3/4 in This anthropomorphic sculpture depicts a set of oversized colored lingerie on two large concrete hangers. Its visual lexicon is explicitly grounded in the sphere of the human body. It nods to Claes Oldenburg’s Ghost Wardrobe (for M. M.) (1967)–a sculpture that paid homage to Marilyn Monroe. Dialoguing with this art historical context, Baghramian’s fragile rubber constructions may suggest the actress’s bras, while also pointing to a human figure that is absent yet implied in the mechanics of seduction and government of bodily forms.

Both an encouragement and an exercise, the title of this work indicates a metaphorical, physical ascent and improvement. Baghramian’s Chin Up (First Fitting) series embraces the possibility of representation by way of absence. Frames without bodies, they trace the outline of the bulbous shapes seen in other artworks of the Chin Up series. As if a layer of skin has been lifted, we admire the beauty of the support structures underneath.

8 Treat (Marrowbone) , 2016 2 parts, wax Left: 292 7/8 × 45 1/4 × 19 5/8 in Right: 16 1/2 × 43 1.4 × 24 in

Baghramian’s Treat (Marrowbone) is a floor-based sculpture reminiscent of primordial forms and natural materials. The artwork deploys language both literally and ambiguously: by referring to a large bone cut in half with its marrow exposed as a “treat,” it conjures a canine desire, perhaps playfully pointing to the artist’s own incessant appetite for bodily architectures.

9 Headgear , 2016

Polished stainless steel, polished aluminum, fabric, silicone, rubber, polyurethane foam, polycarbonate approx. 275 5/8 × 196 7/8 × 59 in

6 Jupon Réassemblé , 2016 Epoxy resin, steel, wax 39 3/8 × 363 × 187 3/4 in

cast aluminum painted in a light gray color, while the interior consists of hand-sculpted amorphous skin-colored synthetic resin that evokes organic, even intestinal, associations. 15a Portrait (The concept-artist smoking head, Stand-In) , 2016

The sculptures in Misfits are based conceptually around the idea of the playground and its limitations. The works were inspired by the surroundings of the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan, where Baghramian presented a solo exhibition in 2021. Next to the galleries is a public garden where adults only have access if accompanying a child. The artist was interested in the potential of working with such a site, where children create the conditions for adults. From childhood, we are taught to assemble elements according to a way of thinking where things must necessarily fit one another. The forms in Baghramian’s Misfits do not dovetail perfectly and rather offer the experience of error as a viable path. Beauty lies precisely in such imperfect juxtapositions. 13 Slip of the Tongue , 2015 Rubber, epoxy resin, polystyrene, concrete, paint, aluminum, glass vitrine: 82 1/4 × 111 3/8 × 24 3/8 in Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Collection This work is part of a larger series first exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014 alongside French Curve . Slip of the Tongue implicates the formal conventions of exhibition display through the use of a raised platform and a large glass vitrine to showcase a trio of unclassifiable appendices. The sculptures inside this vitrine are not self-supporting, but rather lean on the provided apparatus. The set of relationships binding these objects with their structure connects to a wider discourse about the role performed by a museum as a public site where knowledge is produced, classified, consumed, and critiqued. 14 French Curve , 2014 Casted aluminum, epoxy resin, lacquer 23 5/8 × 433 × 275 1/2 in French Curve was first presented on the roof terrace of the Art Institute of Chicago, where Baghramian had a solo exhibition in 2014. Coursing along the ground beneath imposing towers, the serpentine sculpture was conceived in relation and opposition to the city’s skyline. Titled after the technical template used to draw smooth curves in tailoring, this large, floor-based piece sits on a leisurely horizontal axis, conjuring the image of a backbone finally afforded some rest. The lateral, bottom, and top exterior surfaces are

This large artwork, suspended above the museum’s central staircase, introduces a visual motif inspired by orthodontic hardware that recurs across the second floor. Headgear is a version of the corrective mechanism of the same name, exponentially multiplied in scale. As in previous iterations of this work, it is attached directly to the building infrastructure, in this case, the rafters of the museum’s ceiling, recasting the institution itself as a body in need of remedial action.

Baryte b/w print (framed) 51 1/2 × 40 3/8 × 2 1/8 in

15b Portrait (The concept-artist smoking head, Stand-In) , 2016 C-print (framed) 42 1/4 × 56 1/4 × 2 1/8 in 15c Portrait (The concept-artist smoking head, Stand-In), 2016

10 The Pincher , 2017 C-print in artist frame 35 3/8 × 53 1/8 in

An abstracted tool, formed by loosely arranged, dark glossy parts, is the subject of this photograph, which recalls the seemingly neutral visual vocabulary of forensic documentation. One may assume these are pliers, or perhaps an archaeological discovery from a different time. It invites understanding through intuition, subjective imagination and critical scrutiny, processes and feelings integral to the experience of viewing art. 11a Scruff of the Neck (Stopgap) , 2016 Polished aluminium rods, polished

Baryte b/w print (framed) 60 7/8 × 45 1/8 × 2 1/8 in

This series of photographic “portraits” of billowing smokestacks plays on the German saying mir raucht der Kopf , which translates literally as “my head is smoking.” Departing from this verbal expression of deep, incessant thinking, Baghramian deploys the smokestacks as visual representations of the intellectual activity of artists and likening her own conceptual approach to factory production.

aluminium components 69 1/4 × 78 3/4 × 40 1/2 in


All works by Nairy Baghramian. Courtesy the artist, Marian Goodman (New York/Paris) and kurimanzutto (Mexico City/New York) unless otherwise specified.

11b Scruff of the Neck (UL 12/13), 2016 Cast and polished aluminum, polished aluminum rods, plaster, beeswax and rubber 82 5/8 × 82 5/8 × 37 3/8 in 11c Scruff of the Neck (Stopgap) , 2016 Polished aluminum rods, polished

aluminum components 53 1/8 × 90 1/2 × 55 1/8 in

Scruff of the Neck is a suite of sculptures that take inspiration from dental prosthesis such as retainers, braces, bridges, and implants. In dialogue with Headgear , they reference a body in need of correction. The artist imagines these orthodontic apparatuses as large-scale objects, as if one had walked inside a mouth from the back of a head. 12 Misfits M , 2021 Varnished cast aluminum, walnut wood from Danh Vo’s McNamara project, marble, C-print in artist frame 69 5/8 × 28 3⁄4 × 70 in

Aspen Art Museum


Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 1979, the Aspen Art Museum is a thriving and globally engaged non-collecting contemporary art museum. Following the 2014 opening of the museum’s facility designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Shigeru Ban, the AAM enjoys increased attendance, renewed civic interaction, and international media attention. In July 2017, the AAM was one of ten institutions to receive the United States’ National Medal for Museum and Library Services for its educational outreach to rural communities in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley and its fostering of learning partnerships with civic and cultural partners within a 100-mile radius of the museum’s Aspen location.

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This exhibition is curated by Nicola Lees, Nancy and Bob Magoon Director, and Stella Bottai, AAM Curator at Large. Aspen Art Museum exhibitions are made possible by the Marx Exhibition Fund. General exhibition support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Visiting Artist Fund. Additional support is provided by the Aspen Art Museum National Council. Additional support for Nairy Baghramian: Jupon de Corps is provided by the Aspen Art Museum National Council and Mary & Harold Zlot.

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Nairy Baghramian was born in Isfahan, Iran, in 1971. She has lived and worked in Berlin since 1984. Baghramian has been commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to create four new sculptures for the prestigious Fifth Avenue’s façade niches, to be unveiled in September 2023. In the summer, she will install a new sculpture in the exhibition YOU ARE HERE: Contemporary Art in the Garden , MoMA, NY. Recent solo shows include those at Carré d’Art, Nimes, France (2022); Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas (2022); Galleria d’Arte Moderna (GAM), Milan, Italy

(2021); MUDAM Luxembourg, Luxembourg (2019); Palacio de Cristal, Madrid, Spain (2018); the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2017); Statens Museum for Kunst, National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent, Belgium (2016); Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich, Switzerland (2016); Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico (2015); Serralves Museum, Porto, Portugal (2014); MIT Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2013); Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany (2012); the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (2012); and Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2010).

Baghramian has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Nasher Prize Laureate (2022); the Zurich Art Prize (2016); the Arnold-Bode Prize, Kassel (2014); the Hector Prize, Kunsthalle Mannheim (2012); and the Ernst Schering Foundation Award (2007). She has participated in the Yorkshire Sculpture International at the Hepworth Wakefield, UK (2019); Venice Biennale, Italy (2019 and 2011); Skulptur Projekte Munster, Germany (2017 and 2007); the 8th and 5th Berlin Biennale, Germany (2014 and 2008); and Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, Scotland (2012).

Aspen Art Museum

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