At the Threshold of the Visible

  • At the Threshold of the Visible, installation view.

  • Ilya Kabakov, Whose Fly is This?, 1988. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Inc., New York.

  • Peter Santino, Failure of Peace and Love, 1995. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Jeffrey Vallance, Nixon Ring Reliquary, from the series, The Miniature Traveling Nixon Museum, 1996. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Elizabeth LeMoine, Valise with Chair, 1994-1996, detail view. Private collection.

  • Elizabeth LeMoine, Valise with Chair, 1994-1996. Private collection.

Curated by Ralph Rugoff, Susan Stewart

This exhibition examines the uses and the value of tininess in contemporary art practices during the past thirty years. It focuses on artworks that are so slight - generally less than three inches in diameter - that they embody some of the specific qualities and issues associated with the extremely small, in particular, intimacy, a problematic accessibility, and a conception of the sublime that is playfully paradoxical.


At the Threshold of the Visible traces the recent interest in very small size back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, when artists such as Joel Shapiro created minute sculptures that activated vast areas of gallery space, and Yoko Ono evoked the infinitesimal with tiny text-and-object works. In surveying the legacy of such art, At the Threshold of the Visible also focuses on the exchange between viewer and object. Examining the line between public and private, memory and community, this art beguiles us in a game of hide-and-seek. Indeed, upon entering the exhibition space, visitors will initially confront what appears to be empty walls and a non-existent exhibition. Drawn into intimate investigations, viewers reminded that meaning can only be constructed through their active participation.


Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated catalogue with essays by Ralph Rugoff, curator and author of Circus Americanus (1995), and Susan Stewart, author of On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Please click here or visit our shop for more information.



Ralph Rugoff

Ralph Rugoff is the Curator and Artistic Director of the 2019 Venice Biennale of Art, May You Live in Interesting Times.  In 2015 he served as Guest Curator of the XIII Biennale de Lyon in 2015 titled La vie moderne. He has been the Director of the Hayward Gallery of London since 2006, where he has curated numerous group shows including The Painting of Modern Life (2007), Psycho Buildings (2008), and The Infinite Mix (2016); he also has curated major retrospectives and solo exhibitions by Ed Ruscha, Jeremy Deller, Carsten Holler, Tracey Emin and George Condo.  Before coming to London he was Director (2000-06) of CCA Wattis Institute, at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.  Between 1985 and 2002 he wrote art and cultural criticism for numerous periodicals, publishing widely in art magazines as well as newspapers, including Artforum, Artpresse, FlashArt, Frieze, Parkett, Grand Street, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles Weekly and published a collection of essays, Circus Americanus (1995), in which he explored cultural phenomena of the American West. During the same period he began working as an independent curator, organizing exhibitions such as Just Pathetic (1990) and Scene of the Crime (1997).

Susan Stewart

Susan Stewart is the Avalon Foundation University Professor in the Humanities, Professor of English, and Director of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University. A poet, critic, and translator, she is the author of many books, including The Open Studio: Essays in Art and Aesthetics.

She is a MacArthur Fellow, a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the recipient of an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In the Spring of 2014, she was a Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.


touring schedule

Center on Contemporary Art
Seattle, WA, United States
October 17, 1998 - December 12, 1998

Contemporary Art Center of Virginia
Virginia Beach, VA, United States
June 26, 1998 - August 23, 1998

Art Gallery of Windsor
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
May 1, 1998 - June 1, 1998

Edmonton Art Gallery
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
April 11, 1998 - June 14, 1998

Art Gallery of Ontario
Toronto, Canada
January 28, 1998 - April 22, 1998

Decker Galleries, Maryland Institute of Art
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
November 21, 1997 - December 21, 1997

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY, United States
August 30, 1997 - October 26, 1997

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