Jacqueline Humphries ( American, 1960 )

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General Description

Jacqueline Humphries’s paintings resist interpretation. Rather than establishing content, Humphries attempts to alter the baseline conditions of viewing a painting in order to, in her words, “anticipate a new kind of viewing.”

To create this painting, Humphries masked out an inner frame before applying a layer of dense black paint, piled thick on the canvas like clay. Scraping and scoring away at the surface of the black, she filled the gaps with gestural tones of red, and then, for a final layer, applied a translucent sheen of silver across the entire surface. The layered process Humphries devised is intended to com­promise the purity of each layer and confuse the sequence in which they were applied. The effect is an ever-reversible dance between figure and ground; gestures are both paint application and removal that “de-compose” the surface. The light that reflects off of the silver paint toward the viewer prompts a more dynamic viewing experience. As the painting changes based on the viewer’s physical position and proximity in relation to it, one must move around the canvas and take it in from different angles to truly perceive the complete image.

Excerpt from

  • Anna Katherine Brodbeck, ed., TWO X TWO X TWENTY: Two Decades Supporting Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art), 2018, 239.

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