Jüngling vom Magdalensberg

Oliver Laric

Jüngling vom Magdalensberg, 2022

Jüngling vom Magdalensberg is a crucial piece in the practice of Oliver Laric. With its first version made as part of Laric’s exhibition at the Viennese Secession in 2016, the work challenges our understanding of art and conventional modes of arts institutionalization, including the complex legal ambiguities of copyright and rights of use. Inspired by what was believed to be a first-century B.C. sculpture, the work has later proven to be a cast made in the sixteenth century. The statue was found in 1502 by a farmer beside a river on a terrace south of a mountaintop and was taken to Salzburg. The fate of the original, however, is not known with certainty. Laric’s version of the work, chosen for its narrative ambiguity, is based on a 3D scan of this sixteenth-century bronze from the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien and can be considered a continuation of this interpretation trajectory.

Made from SLS nylon, resin, and pigments, the work assumes all imperfections found in the initial bronze, carrying these through time and making them an essential part of the work’s identity. May this be a perforation near the sculpture’s collarbone, a dimple on the sculpture’s chest, or an inscription on the left thigh of the statue – a dedication to its donors. Inscribed into a perforated part of the work, the inscription is transformed into an illegible abstraction resembling, through its materiality, the increasingly immaterial realm of the digital. Composing his sculptures from modules made from different and frequently contrasting materials, this latest version of Jüngling vom Magdalensberg is unique in terms of perforated parts proportion compared to solid modules. Besides the structural challenges this implied when constructing the work, the sculpture becomes characteristic of its translucid nature, allowing for the passage of light through the figure, distinguishing it significantly from previous versions of the piece while increasing the body’s fragility and immaterial nature. By making art traditionally locked in a museum accessible to an increasingly digital society, Laric challenges traditional modes of art institutionalism by stripping it from constraints to private ownership. Moreover, by scanning and producing a version of an existing motive, Laric points to the aesthetic of repetition, which, rather than something new, is something inherent to sculpture, classical Roman sculpture, and sculptural copies, also referred to as Idealplastic, being only one example.

Oliver Laric has exhibited his work at S.M.A.K. (Ghent), Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Guggenheim (Bilbao, Spain), São Paulo Biennale, ICA Boston, Centre Pompidou (Paris), Whitechapel Gallery (London), ExtraCity Kunsthalle (Antwerp), Kunstlerhouse Benthanien (Berlin), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Saint Louis Art Museum (St. Louis, Missouri), among others. Laric's work is part of the collection of the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (Monaco), MUMOK (Vienna), Ferdinandeum (Innsbruck, Austria), Kunsthaus Bregenz (Bregenz, Austria), The Collection Museum (Lincoln, UK), Kunstsammlung (Dusseldorf, Germnay), Museum für Moderne Kunst (Frankfurt, Germany), Cleveland Art Museum (Cleveland, Ohio), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C.), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Frac Bretagne (Rennes, France), among others.