Tyler Green
Art-focused Journalism by Tyler Green

Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

Acquisition: Tom LaDuke at the Albright-Knox

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LaDuke4PM1980AK.jpgTom LaDuke makes paintings of how we see, paintings that take our synapses through the process of seeing. Yesterday I talked about how LaDuke paints the light of LA.
The painting shown here is LaDuke’s 4 PM, 1980 (2007). It’s 45-by-60 inches. The Albright-Knox purchased it late last year.
In his new work LaDuke gives up the outdoors for artificial light. 4 PM, like other paintings LaDuke made in 2007, is apparently lit with fluorescent light. (In this LaDuke follows Robert Olsen, a young Los Angeles-based painter who who fetishizes fluorescents and rejects LA’s natural light — and the art history associated with it. An untitled 2005 Olsen is below.)
It’s hard to tell whether we’re looking at the reflection of a winter landscape in a window or if we’re looking through a window into some type of fantastical scene. (The fluorescent bulbs at the top of the painting seem to argue for the former.) Maybe it’s less important to us what we are seeing than it is how our eyes and brain work together to try to solve the visual riddle in front of us: Is it real or is it a reflected facsimile? (And are those cleaning-material bottles in the lower right? Because if they are, it would suggest that the window needs cleaning in order to…)
RobertOlsen2005.jpgMaybe we’re looking at neither: Maybe LaDuke is painting a photograph. After all, the painting’s title is a kind of time-stamp, a clear reference to the past.
In LA Weekly, Peter Frank raised the prospect that LaDuke’s 2007 works are references to Gerhard Richter’s gray paintings. I think of those paintings as being about memory and the ways in which memories do and do not remain clear. (Eric Fischl, too.) Maybe that’s here in LaDuke too. But to me they’re first about looking, seeing, and how.
Related: Robert Olsen blogs, too.

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