Donna Dennis: Deep Station

West Barn

June 8-July 27, 2024


Donna Dennis: Deep Station

West Barn

June 8-July 27, 2024

The Ranch is pleased to announce an exhibition of the American sculptor Donna Dennis, the single-work presentation inaugurating the fourth season of programming at The Ranch. The sculptural installation, Deep Station (1981–1985), is a physical and sonic recreation of an unpeopled and nocturnal subway station. The show continues the pivotal work’s extensive display between 1985 and 1998 when it was exhibited at numerous museums, including the Brooklyn Museum in 1987. This presentation marks the work’s public reemergence since it was last on view at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1998.

The last in a series of New York City subway stations began in 1973, Deep Station also references the Roman Forum. Its intricate arrangement of platform, track, girders, I-beams, and vaulting arches creates the illusion of far-reaching underground passages that evoke psychological drama. “For me,” says the artist, “the subway is a metaphorical kind of space having to do with a number of aspects of human experience and of course the subconscious. Deep Station is meant to be the subway station at the ‘bottom of the world’… I think of the track area as a kind of subterranean river and the platform as an ancient city on the banks of that river. Processes begun deep underground will be felt on the surface later, like shifting tectonic plates. In my metaphor, this represents a shift in consciousness.”

Dennis began exploring architecture’s metaphorical possibilities during the 1970s, spurred on by the lessons and legacies of the Women’s Movement. Her early works, false front hotels and subway stations, were compressed enclosures that subliminally reflected her own interiority. As her investigations expanded, the artist began imbuing American vernacular architecture with epic scale. Deep Station is the largest and most complex of her subway stations. The work arrives at the Ranch on a wave of resurgent interest in the artist, who was recently hailed by The New York Times as a godmother of installation art.

Donna Dennis’s immersive installations have been exhibited in prominent museums and global exhibitions, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Neuberger Museum, the Sculpture Center, the Venice Biennale, the Whitney Biennial, the National Academy Museum, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Walker Art Center, MoMA PS1, Tate Gallery, ICA London, and the Ludwig Forum for International Art. Her work is held in numerous public and private collections. She’s the subject of a career-surveying monograph, Donna Dennis: Poet in Three Dimensions (The Monacelli Press, 2023) and author of Writing Toward Dawn: Selected Journals 1969–1982 (Bamberger Books, 2024). She lives and works in Germantown, New York.