In Focus

Bruce Conner, Knox

KNOX, an assemblage of found materials, comprises many layers of paper, plastic, fabric, and string. The variety of textures and colors might at first seem haphazard and the result of chance, yet it was fabricated painstakingly, and each element was attached with thought and deliberation. Some elements are easily recognizable: the cheesecake pin-up figures with outstretched arms offer themselves freely to the viewer, and their nudity is picked up by a small cartoon-like dancer between them, as well as a pair of feet peeking through other surfaces on the left side of the work. The swath of jeans cloth in the upper center and the pieces of woven straw at the bottom of KNOX are also familiar, evoking a casual, outdoorsy fashion that contrasts with the bits of lacy fineries that appear elsewhere and hints at an almost innocent sense of eroticism-gone-by. The visual and mental connections that can be drawn between the fragments are innumerable.

That Conner incorporated old, used objects in KNOX is characteristic of his assemblages, which include found items that are dated: old hosiery, fabrics, costume jewelry, toys, and printed matter regularly appear in his art. These materials are also related to the worlds of women and childhood, and his assemblages' bodily, often grotesque references invoke the sensuality of the Surrealist tradition. KNOX comes from a period in Conner's career when he was at the height of his work in this medium, which, along with his films, counts among the artist's most influential. Indeed, in 1961 the Museum of Modern Art organized an exhibition devoted entirely to assemblage. Among the curator's first choices were examples by Bruce Conner.

Adapted from

  • "KNOX," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Bonnie Pitman (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), 316.

  • Claire Rieflj, Suzanne Weaver, and Charles Wylie, DMA unpublished material, 2004.

  • Claire Rieflj and Suzanne Weaver, DMA unpublished material, 2005.