Spanning six decades, this first American museum exhibition of the influential work of Hreinn Fridfinnsson highlights the artist’s use of minimal gestures to transform everyday materials into poetic, allusive, and revelatory works of art. Born and raised in Iceland, Fridfinnsson came of age as an artist during the 1960s. He moved to Amsterdam in 1971 and began exhibiting his work in museums and galleries across Europe.
His early works align with contemporaneous cutting-edge art movements, such as land art and photoconceptualism, but still suggest the distinctively romantic, lyrical, and wry sensibility that would continue to define his practice. Five Gates for the South Wind, 1971–72, for example, fourteen framed photographs accompanied by a typewritten text, documents a set of freestanding gates the artist built in a remote corner of Iceland, engineered to swing open only when a breeze from the south, proverbially warm, blows.
Other projects from the time could be even more expansive in their ambition and meaning, such as First House, 1974, a small structure built inside-out and sited in a volcanic crater. With curtains and wallpaper on the outside, the work implies that the entire universe exists within the domestic interior, save for the modest space contained by its walls. Known almost entirely from photographs, the house morphed into other, self-referential iterations over the years, most recently Fourth House, 2017, a three-dimensional outline in highly polished stainless steel, which moots categorical distinctions of inside or out.