Alan Rath: Virtual Unreality
February 23, 2019 – June 2, 2019
Alan Rath is known internationally as a pioneer in electronic, kinetic, and robotic sculpture.
Alan Rath: Virtual Unreality marks the first large-scale retrospective survey of this internationally recognized Bay Area artist since his 1998 survey show at Site Santa Fe.
Since the early 1980s, he has produced an ever-evolving body of work that ranges from elaborately designed electronic marvels to fluid, kinetic mobiles. All of his sculptures utilize custom electronics designed and fabricated by the artist. Many of his works modify their behavior in unexpected ways over long spans of time, some taking years or even decades to display surprising new imagery.
Alan Rath: Virtual Unreality will include over 35 artworks made between 1986 and 2018, and will span Rath’s prolific career from his early sculptures that incorporated cathode ray tubes and found objects to his most recent digital and electronic robotics. This exhibition will trace the major themes and motifs in Rath’s work, including his frequent use of imagery like eyes, mouths and hands that are indicative of human expression and perception, and other motifs like soundless speakers, the running man that changes daily, and feathers that animate robotic machines. Though often viewed solely through the lens of “digital art” or “new media,” Rath’s work is first and foremost sculpture, constructed with a deeply refined sense of formal elegance and a broad understanding of historical context. The formal sophistication extends into the smallest of details, with a remarkable attention to functionality.
An accompanying catalogue with a digital component will be published and available in June 2019.
Rath received a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1982. His contributions to the field of contemporary sculpture and new media have received significant acknowledgement worldwide. His work is in such major collections as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), the San Jose Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Orange County Museum of Art (CA), Berkeley Art Museum (CA), and the Hara Museum (Tokyo). Rath maintains a studio in Oakland, CA and is represented by Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco.
Major support for Alan Rath: Virtual Unreality is provided by the Shifting Foundation, the Lipman Family Foundation, Doris & Alan Burgess, and Anonymous in honor of Todd Hosfelt. Generous support is provided by Brigitte Sandquist & Phil Black, Sarah Ratchye & Ed Frank, Tom Patchett, and Michael Solway. Additional support provided by Elaine Cardinale, Yvonne & Mike Nevens, and Deborah & Andy Rappaport.