Unexpected Materials

CHAPTER 5: It’s a process: how materials influence method

Materials and process are inextricably tied to one another. To make his sculpture Patrick, for example, Oliver Herring photographed his sitter over the course of several sittings to document every nook and cranny of his body; this labor-intensive method is made visible in the hundreds of photographs that comprise Patrick’s “skin.” Antonio Berni’s collagraphs, by contrast, belie the artist’s intricate procedure of making, which began with accruing debris from the street. Finally, tape played an integral role in Jaime Davidovich’s practice—its transparency and liminal nature perfectly captured his interest in boundaries, both physical and conceptual.

This art object can not be displayed
Cord Painting 14

Regina Bogat
Brooklyn, New York, 1928 -

Cord Painting 14
Acrylic with nylon and satin cords on canvas
182.9 cm x 152.4 cm (72 in. x 60 in.)
Purchase through the generosity of the Houston Endowment, Inc., in honor of Melissa Jones, 2014
2014.67

During the 1960s and 1970s, many artists opened their practices to a wider range of media; they often incorporated pliable materials such as yarn, string, and rope into their work. Although Regina Bogat considers this a painting, the only painted element is its cadmium red background. After the artist drilled holes into the canvas, she arranged the cords systematically using a grid and a repeated sequence of colors. She then subverted the careful logic of her composition by knotting the dangling cords at irregular lengths. This is one of a series of fifteen cord paintings Bogat made in the 1970s from her home in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, where she moved in 1972 with her husband, painter Alfred Jensen. “I missed my art supply store in Manhattan,” she recently recalled. “In its stead, I found a local trimmings shop that had a beautiful array of embroidery threads and cord trimmings. I had been influenced by my friend Eva Hesse’s recent use of unorthodox materials in her art; and perhaps, I was also unconsciously influenced by the hair phenomenon of the early seventies.”


Retrato de Ramona [Portrait of Ramona]

Antonio Berni
Rosario, Argentina, 1905 - 1981, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Retrato de Ramona [Portrait of Ramona]
Collage of collagraph prints
63.4 cm x 31.2 cm (24 15/16 in. x 12 5/16 in.)
Gift of the Museum of Modern Art, 1982
1982.10

Ramona pupila

Antonio Berni
Rosario, Argentina, 1905 - 1981, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Ramona pupila
Collograph
149.5 cm x 64.2 cm (58 7/8 in. x 25 1/4 in.)
Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1970
P1970.6.5

Antonio Berni’s experimental figuration was a key point of departure for the members of Nueva Figuración. Beginning in the late 1950s, Berni developed two narrative series based on the lives of imaginary characters Juanito Laguna, a boy from the slums, and Ramona Montiel, a prostitute. In these two works, Berni explores the use of three-dimensional printmaking techniques, lending surfaces a sculptural quality. Ramona seems to be assembled out of discarded objects the artist found in the street. Fragments of cheap tablecloths, broken mechanical parts, and forgotten ordinary items reinforce the marginality of Ramona’s existence. Berni pursued through these innovative collagraphs the central goal of his long and prolific career, an art of social engagement. See also: Antonio Berni, "Retrato de Ramona [Portrait of Ramona]," 1963, Collage of collagraph prints

Image credit:
Antonio Berni
Retrato de Ramona [Portrait of Ramona], 1963 (detail)
Collage of collagraph prints
The Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin
Gift of the Museum of Modern Art, 1982

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