Beautiful Productions: art to play, art to wear, art to own

Press Release, The Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, Friday 6 July - Sunday 19 August 2001

Vanessa Beecroft, Maurizio Cattelan, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Juan Muñoz, Meret Oppenheim, Andy Warhol and Rachel Whiteread are just some of the artists brought together at the Whitechapel in a celebration of works made to be mass produced and taken home.

Commissioned by the influential Zurich based journal Parkett since 1984, around 120 of the most important artists of our time have created multiples that represent the essence of their art or reveal an unexpected dimension. The exhibition includes Hirst's ping-pong ball hovering on the hot air of a hair dryer, Oppenheim's surrealist veined gloves and Muñoz's image etched in glass, only made visible by the breath of the viewer.

Artists have created 'multiples' through the century to bring avant garde art and ideas to mass audiences while infusing commodity culture with poetry, politics, and aesthetics.

Parkett's 'aim to produce a vehicle of direct confrontation with art' led to the creation of a journal that is artist-driven; each multiple relates to a particular publication. The works cover every possible medium including painting, page art projects, photographs, drawings, prints, sculptures, videos, DVDs and sound pieces. First seen at MoMA in New York, this exhibition also provides an overview of developments in contemporary art over the last 18 years.

The Whitechapel's lower gallery is transformed into a playroom, a studio, an office, a wardrobe and a garden to house the Jeff Koons or Mariko Mori's toys, Sylvie Fleury or Thomas Hirschhorn's prêt-à-porter accessories or Nan Goldin and Felix Gonzalez-Torres' investigations into nature.

Beautiful Productions continues Centenary celebrations by including many artists who have shown at Whitechapel or who will feature in the coming years. It also brings up to date the Whitechapel/Arts Council 1970 survey of multiple art called Three Towards Infinity. Today's multiples reflect a generation who incorporate populist and elitist, critical and self-promoting, humanist and capitalist values, and who - above all - reveal in art climbing down off its pedestal and wandering out into the world.