Solid state: Rick Owens’ latest foray into sculpture and furniture

Black and white image of large-scale concrete sculptures
Installation view of MoCA's recently opened exhibition, presenting furniture, video and new large-scale sculptures by Rick Owens. Courtesy of Owenscorp
(Image credit: Courtesy of Owenscorp)

He’s a favourite of rappers and the man who invented ‘grunge-luxe’, but California-born, Paris-based Rick Owens is less well known for his connections to brutalist architecture, minimalist furniture design and modernist painting. But a new exhibition at the LA Museum of Contemporary Art’s Pacific Design Centre reveals Owens’ engagement with these related disciplines.

Organised by MoCA curatorial assistant Rebecca Matalon, in close collaboration with Owens’ wife and creative partner Michèle Lamy, 'Rick Owens: Furniture' presents pieces from the line created by the couple in 2007, alongside a group of large-scale sculptures, many being seen in public for the first time.

Black and white image of a concrete sculpture in the form of an elongated igloo

'Prong', by Rick Owens, 2016

(Image credit: Courtesy of Owenscorp)

Sculptures such as Prong (2016) experiment with foam – a new material in Owens’ repertoire – continuing the designer’s dialogue with modernism and minimalism with blocky, rigid lines and a predilection for monochrome palettes. Among the works unveiled in West Hollywood is a new series of sculptures, titled Totems (2016), reminiscent, Matalon says, of the late Anne Truitt. Heavy-looking, brutal and luxuriant, Owens’ objects demonstrate how his understanding of shape extends far beyond the architecture of a body.

Also included are benches crafted from camel skin, concrete and foam – a nod to Méret Oppenheim’s surrealist fur tea set. At the centre of the show, Owens and Lamy have constructed an epic, textured alabaster wall, extending to the ceiling. The exhibition also sees Owens experiment with rock crystal, sourced in Pakistan.

Black and white image of a tall piece of textured wall and a woman partially behind it

Lamy and Owens' alabaster wall at MoCA, 2016

(Image credit: Courtesy of Owenscorp)

'We are thrilled to be able to present the first US museum exhibition devoted to Owens’ sensuous and stunning work in furniture and sculpture,' Matalon says. Born in Porterville, California, it was in Los Angeles that Owens launched his stratospherically successful label in 1994. 'This exhibition,' Matalon concludes, 'feels quite a bit like a homecoming.'

Black and white image of a geometric foam sculpture

Experimentation continues with Owens's material choices, which include works in foam (left) and rock crystal (right)

(Image credit: Courtesy of Owenscorp)

Black and white image of a grey, geometric structure

Foam sculptures such as Prong, 2016, see Owens and his wife and creative partner Michèle Lamy experiment with monochromatic minimalism

(Image credit: Courtesy of Owenscorp)

INFORMATION

'Rick Owens: Furniture' is on view until 2 April. For more information, visit the MoCA website (opens in new tab)

ADDRESS

MoCA Pacific Design Centre
8687 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90069

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Charlotte Jansen is a journalist and the author of two books on photography, Girl on Girl (2017) and Photography Now (2021). She is commissioning editor at Elephant magazine and has written on contemporary art and culture for The Guardian, the Financial Times, ELLE, the British Journal of Photography, Frieze and Artsy. Jansen is also presenter of Dior Talks podcast series, The Female Gaze.