Tuesday, February 11, 2014

“Painting is dead from this day on!” —French painter Paul Delaroche, 1839, on seeing a daguerreotype for the first time

An article about my work from 1979 that proves some things are perennial, I think.
You go about your days and you think you are doing just what you like. But imagine my alarm (and pleasure) when I reread this article (above) about my work from 1979, which talks about the "constructed image" and beauty, two notions I'm still mulling over in my work. And, while I imagine that I'm thinking up new ideas all the time, some of the time I'm recycling old ones and (not so simply) recalibrating them for the present day. 

In 1979, I was totally unknown and the article (below) was about my first solo show. I wrote a press release that read, "From this day on, photography is dead," inverting Delaroche's famous phrase. It may not have been true, but it got my name in the paper. Delaroche was a conservative painter of large histories, and he was in a panic about how effortlessly--even uncannily--photography renders whatever is in front of the lens.

All of which is simply an introduction to the work I'm experimenting with now. (I'll probably cal it Artist's Statements: Painting, images below.) In the new work, I confound (okay--kill) the photograph by making it look like a painting, but one that is rendered photographically. What appears to be an expressive swoop of paint turns out to be precisely rendered gradients of pixels that somehow look more like paint than paint does. Look at the brown circle of the first image below. It's kind of shifty. First it looks painted, then it looks life a photograph of paint, then it looks like paint on top of a photograph. This kind of layering that has always fascinated me, and it's certainly a metaphor for something or other. I don't know that I was ever interested in beauty, exactly. To my way of thinking, the word is shorthand for "new, fresh, exciting," which is what the 35-year-old Globe article is about. 

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