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Ugo Rondinone

The Second Hour of the Poem, 2005
wax and pigments
140.0 x 82.0 x 82.0 cm
The Second Hour of the Poem is a wax sculpture of a giant lightbulb hung from the ceiling by a metal chain. Despite its very explicit visual reference to the mass-produced industrial object for domestic use, its opacity prevents it from lighting up, as if it had been unplugged and frozen forever.

This obvious uselessness echoes several other unusual works by Rondinone (sealed doors, filled windows, bare olive trees), whose world is characterized by a recurrent dichotomy and thus constantly oscillates between the familiar and the fantastical, dreams and reality, the banal and the sublime.

This work belongs to the series The Twenty Four Hours of the Poem (2005) made up of twenty-four similar bulbs in silicon and polyurethane resin on an iron skeleton. Each of them is coated in a layer of colored wax that combines three skillfully selected pantone nuances, recalling the chromatism of Pop Art. Although the choice of a lightbulb pays tribute to Jasper Johns’s Light Bulb (1960) and Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, Rondinone distances himself from the idea of the diverted object, by making no effort to conceal the artistic gesture or the object’s symbolic significance. On the contrary, he confers upon it a new solemn presence, like a silent idea or suspended thought.

Continuing his habit of giving special attention to the enigmatic titles of his works, the artist has named each lightbulb in the series after a specific hour of the day, which represents a verse, a particle of an imaginary poem. Although he constantly seeks to free himself from temporal constraints, by capturing the moment, Rondinone never stops evoking precise units in his work (hours, days, months, seasons, years), thus inevitably materializing his obsession with passing time.
Ugo Rondinone, The Second Hour of the Poem, 2005