With a Magritte-Inspired Show, Thomas Demand Tries Curating

Luigi Ghirri's Modena (1972) photograph. Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, © Estate of Luigi Ghirri

While most New York galleries have inaugurated their summer shows by now, the Matthew Marks Gallery is coming late out of the gate tonight, unveiling a group show called La Carte d’après Nature that was curated by the Berlin-based photographer Thomas Demand, who shows at the gallery.

La Carte, which takes its name from the title of a journal that Belgian Surrealist René Magritte published from 1951 to 1965, includes a clutch of artists with little previous New York exposure, like the French artist Saâdane Afif, the Dutch experimenter Ger van Elk, and the Ghanaian sculptor Kudjoe Affutu, whose work often takes the form of coffin sculptures. There are also dozens of photographs by the deceased Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri and films by British superstars Tacita Dean and Rodney Graham.

Even in a summer of unusual group shows, the design of La Carte sounds peculiar, sporting wallpaper by Mr. Demand and walls based on a labyrinthine drawing by the Glasgow-based artist Martin Boyce. “I wanted there to be the feeling of something strange,” Mr. Demand said in a telephone interview, explaining the layout of the show. “By the time you reach the third gallery, I want you to think, ‘I am walking in a drawing.’”

None of the work in the show is for sale, a stipulation that came from the Brussels-based René Magritte Foundation, which helped organized the exhibition when it appeared at the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco last year. Three Magrittes are included in the show: two on loan from Houston’s Menil Collection and one, on loan from a private collection, that Mr. Demand noted has not been shown publicly since 1932, the year the artist painted it.

Mr. Demand spoke enthusiastically about his show, but, when asked by The Observer if he was would consider undertaking curatorial work as a second career, the artist didn’t pause. “I’m just an amateur,” he said firmly.

With a Magritte-Inspired Show, Thomas Demand Tries Curating