DREAM MONUMENTS:
DRAWING IN THE 1960s AND 1970s

MENIL DRAWING INSTITUTE
HOUSTON, TEXAS
MAY 21 - SEPTEMBER 19, 2021

In May 2021, the Menil Drawing Institute presents a group exhibition entitled Dream Monuments: Drawing in the 1960s and 1970s which includes a drawing by Gallery artist Will Insley. The exhibition highlights artists who created works on paper concerning monuments in improbable scale to reimagine history and environments and is co-curated by Erica DiBenedetto, guest curator, and Kelly Montana, Assistant Curator at the Menil Drawing Institute. 

The show takes inspiration from the unrealized exhibition “Dream Monuments” planned by Menil co-founders Dominique and John circa 1969. Their original plan invited nine artists to submit proposals for large-scale, site-specific sculptural monuments. Artists included Christo, Walter de Maria, Michael Heizer, Will Insley, Richard Long, Robert Morris, Claes Oldenburg, Dennis Oppenheim, and Robert Smithson.

Architectural drawing in black ink of a square building seen diagonally from above

WILL INSLEY (1929-2011)
/Building/ No. 5, Channel Space Reverse, Isometric, 1968
pencil on tracing paper
30 x 30 inches | 76.2 x 76.2 cm

Architectural drawing in black ink of a square building seen diagonally from above

WILL INSLEY (1929-2011)
/Building/ No. 5, Channel Space Reverse, Plan and Section, 1968
pencil on tracing paper
30 x 30 inches | 76.2 x 76.2 cm

Insley’s original entry, /Building/ No. 5, Channel Space Reverse (1968), derives from the complex mythological and religious structures the artist created as a part of his lifelong artistic project ONECITY. Insley created fifty of these structures or /buildings/ – the slash marks denoting that they are abstract, art-architectural ruins as opposed to practical buildings for the labyrinthine metropolis planned for the Central North American plains. The term ‘channel space’ refers to the continuous surface of slanted planes that rise and fall between the limits of the horizon line and the earth while flowing outward in a wave progression from a central point. In Insley’s vision, /Building/ No. 5 contains neither walls, floors, doors, nor entrances and extends twelve feet above ground and three-hundred sixty feet square in a measured scale of non-horizontal and non-vertical lines. 

Ultimately, due to the scale of the project and the subsequent cost of materials, the ‘Dream Monuments’ project was never brought to fruition.  

Architectural drawing in colored inks of a building seen in section, aboveground and underground

WILL INSLEY (1929-2011)
/Building/ No. 41, Volume Space, Interior Swing Section Through, 1973-81
ink on ragboard
40 x 60 inches | 101.6 x 152.4 cm

The group exhibition at the Drawing Institute brings back those original nine artists and adds in eleven additional contemporaries working with monuments in conceptual and land art: Alice Aycock, Beverly Buchanan, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Mel Chin, Agnes Denes, Mary Beth Edelson, Jackie Ferrara, Gray Foy, Marta Minujín, Robert Rauschenberg, and Michelle Stuart. 

Insley’s inclusion, /Building/ No. 41, Volume Space, Interior Swing Section Through (1973-81), is joined in the gallery by other drawings of fictive cities and systems by Alice Aycock, Agnes Denes, and Jackie Ferrara, all exploring the abstract, art-architectural concepts of walls, stairs, floors, and ceilings. 

The estate and archive of Will Insley is owned, managed, and represented exclusively by WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC.