In 2005, Lang retired from the brand, and became a full-time artist. His mixed-media works ranging from sculpture to video rest as remnants of internalized materials. His series of beheaded eagles clad in tar reveal a cherry-oak composition. His series of gold-leafed panels resemble stretched scrolls or post-minimalist paintings. These works appeared in Bury at Dallas Contemporary, in 2016, alongside hung sheepskin suspended in black tar. Lang’s work endures its milieu with intervals of silence within formal supports.
The aesthetics of Helmut Lang the fashion label braced a corporeal vulnerability within modern efficiency. Lang conserved the mind’s energy with monochrome colors amidst the turn of the century’s .com bubble. These clothes supported the body, as individuals geared for the demands of its globalized, hyper-saturated industries.
Lang’s long-time friendship and collaboration with Louis Bourgeois centers the human figure’s response to the mind and its alienating environment. Lang’s alluvium, 2016 and agnus, 2016 from enamel, resin, paper and steel congeal the disorder of affect, echoing Bourgeois’ stitched textile figures.
His hardened forms, seen in the 2019 series of numbered network canvases with cotton, wax, resin, and tar, or his 2017 untitled series of shellac, resin, latex and foam sculptures exemplify Lang’s practice of self-contained bodies of visceral work shrouded in preservatives. Lang determines the disposition of these biomorphic figures, and binds to their audience’s emotive response; perhaps reflecting on one’s conditions.
After donating much of the Helmut Lang archive to museums, the artist shredded the remaining clothes, and mixed them with resin into thin columns, filling their environment as slivers of time. A selection of this work appeared in 63 at von ammon co, in 2019.
Helmut Lang (b. 1956, Vienna, AT, lives and works in New York). Select solo exhibitions include 63, von ammon co, Washington, DC, 2019; BURRY, Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, TX, 2016; Helmut Lang: Sculptures, Mark Fletcher, 2012; Make It Hard, The Fireplace Project, East Hampton, NY, 2011; Front Row, Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece, 2009; Alles Gleich Schwer, kestnergesellschaft, Hanover, Germany, 2008. Their work has been included in group exhibitions at The System of Objects, Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece, 2013; Commercial Break, Garage Projects at 54th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy 2011; Austria Davaj!, Schusev State Museum of Architecture, Moscow, Russia, 2011; Louise Bourgeois / Jenny Holzer / Helmut Lang, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria, 1998-99 )
Network, 2019, Tennis Elbow at The Journal Gallery, New York
network #0, 2017, paper, tar, and resin on canvas, 58 1/2 x 33 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches
network #1, 2018, cotton, wax, resin, and tar on canvas, 68 1/2 x 52 x 1 1/2 inches
network #2, 2019, cotton, wax, resin, and tar on canvas, 67 x 52 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches
network #3, 2019, paper, tar, and resin on canvas, 61 1/2 x 53 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches
network #5, 2017, paper, tar, and resin on canvas, 58 1/2 x 33 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches