Unexpected Materials

CHAPTER 4: What lies beneath: unique surfaces

In these works, you’ll encounter surfaces of all qualities and textures: from glittery glass microspheres to industrial bronze slats to ruddy egg cartons. What unites this group, however, is a common deviation from the norm. Giuseppe Maria Crespi rejected ordinary canvas in favor of copper, for instance, so as to endow his subject with a luminous aura not feasible with typical linen. Gego took what could have been a conventional line drawing and gave it dynamic energy by composing it in wire. Finally, Mary Corse achieved the seemingly impossible—creating a painting of light—by applying tiny glass microspheres to her canvas; when illuminated correctly, the result is an expanse of shimmering light.

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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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