Alice Hutchins, L'ultima cena, 1991, Porcelain plate, magnets, metal balls chain, 3 cm ø 21 cm, Edition of 21
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
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  • Porcelain plate, magnets, metal balls chain
  • 3 cm ø 21 cm
    (1 ⅛ inches ø 8 ¼ inches)
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  • Alice Hutchins was an American sculptor whose primary materials were metal and magnets, which she assembled into objects and used in performances. After dropping out of the University of California, Berkeley, Hutchins began to establish herself as a painter in Paris, where her work shifted from figurative to abstract as she grew increasingly interested in performance art. With a fascination for light and movement, it was only in 1967, after visiting a hardware store and being inspired there by small, coated magnets, that her work became sculptural, three-dimensional, and constructive. Magnetic force became an ideal means for Hutchins to create instant assemblages, encouraging viewers to complete her magnetic constructs or “playthings,” stimulating a multisensory tactile approach to her pieces. Works such as Group I Model J (1968), Circus (1975), and Hex (1976) openly invite viewers to become participants of the work itself through play and interaction. During 1966, while working in Paris, Hutchins deepened her acquaintance with George Brecht, whose work she admired. The following year, she traveled to New York, taking with her some first examples of her magnetic “playthings.” On this occasion, she became acquainted with Dick Higgins, editor of Something Else Press, and his wife Alison Knowles, both active in Fluxus. Through the proximity to Fluxus and the ready-made nature of her magnets, with their ability to suit manifold compositional applications, Hutchins began to work with multiples. Following her solo exhibition at Something Else Gallery in New York in 1968, George Maciunas supported and collaborated with her on several projects, including the production of Jewelry FluxKit (1969). Editions published later with Francesco Conz, such as L’Ultima Cena (1991) and La tour or Five Stories (1992), follow the same logic that references Fluxus-kits, interactive boxes, and games. In 1973, Hutchins took part in the exhibition Fluxshoe: British Tour, and in 1997 in Francesco Conz’s exhibition That Intermedia Avant-Garde at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane (1997), the participants of which were Conz’s numerous friends and collaborators. Hutchins’s work can be found in numerous public and private collections worldwide, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Tate Modern in London.

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