Geometric abstractions, makeshift shacks and a copious amount of sand transforms Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art into a hippie playground for Hélio Oiticica’s retrospective To Organize Delirium (which comes to the Whitney next year). The exhibition presents a chronological look at the Brazilian artist’s short but feverishly prolific career. (He died suddenly in 1980 at 43-years old). In one gallery, a cluster of orange boards hangs from the ceiling while a cage of live parrots sits in a corner. Colorful macramé hammocks and projected images of Jimi Hendrix covered in cocaine fills another room. And the Museum’s grand Hall of Sculpture looks like a tent city on a beach.
While well-regarded in his native country, the artist remains relatively overlooked in the United States. But past the institutional visibility, To Organize Delirium doesn’t do much to rectify this. The show’s curators provide such little context for the work, which didn’t seem to age well in the first place, that I felt uncertain as to why his art had any currency at the time.