Wednesday, May 6, 2009
John McCracken ~ Black Box
Portland artist, Pat Boas, will speak on May 14, 2009 at the Portland Art Museum as part of the monthly gallery talks by local artists. Her talk will involve Untitled, 1969, by Philip Guston and John McCracken's Black Box, 1965. Amy and I have been selecting pieces from these monthly talks to be part of Fifty Two Pieces. John McCracken's Black Box leads off week 19 – it's hard to believe we've been writing this blog for nineteen weeks.
The photo above certainly doesn't do this beautiful black box the justice it deserves. Hopefully we'll find a better one as the week progresses; I can foresee more search time at Flickr. On a recent visit to the Black Box it was its usual beautiful self sitting as a cube, perceived as black as you approach. But then you realize as you stand before it that it is not simply black. It picks up the nuance of the environment around it as it occupies space on the first floor of the Portland Art Museum's Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art. Some of the sides are a lesser black, more of a gray. These differences are caused by light and reflection – the reflection of the white walls, the white light, and the white from Robert Irwin's disc that lives next to it.
So except for the thin layer of dust that was on the Black Box's top the other day, we can see reflections of ourselves and everything around us. This is one of McCracken's goals when he makes his highly polished planks, rectangles and cubes. That tension embodies the equilibrium between the figure and the ground, creating a dynamic for us the viewer. We'll be exploring more of this during the days to come. The week's posts could develop into both materialism and transcendentalism. Be ready.