Ragnar Kjartansson is the first comprehensive overview of the internationally-celebrated Icelandic artist’s prodigious output since his debut in Reykjavík and Stockholm in 2000. It encompasses the entirety of Kjartansson’s practice, which includes film, video installation, photography, painting and drawing. It will include a number of works not previously exhibited in U.S. museums.
Born into a theatrical family in Reykjavík in 1976, Kjartansson makes work that explores familial, social and cultural ties with poignancy, irony and wit.
“Ragnar Kjartansson is truly an artist of the 21st century,” said Stéphane Aquin, the Hirshhorn’s chief curator and the coordinating curator of the exhibition. “Our identities are increasingly wrapped up in the culture we consume and produce, and virtually everyone is now aware of the self as a kind of performance. With great insight, Ragnar grasps what it is to remain fully human under those circumstances.”
The exhibition will include Kjartansson’s principal works, such as The Visitors (2012), a nine-channel video in which musicians scattered throughout a decaying mansion perform a setting of “nihilistic feminine gospel music,” and The End, a series of 144 paintings made during the 2009 Venice Biennale as an examination of the purpose and value of art at a time of financial crisis in Iceland. It will also include other major works, as well as a new work yet to be conceived.
Whether you go or not, the fully illustrated catalog, , presents the entirety of Kjartansson’s practice, which includes film, video installation, photography, painting and drawing.