The Daily Pic
Blake Gopnik's Latest Sightings

The Daily Pic: Blake Gopnik's Latest Sightings

Daily Pic: Velazquez’s Decisive Moment

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This image shows a moment in 1656 just before Diego Velazquez painted the greatest canvas in Western art; it’s a still grabbed from the fiendishly clever high-def video called “89 Seconds at Alcázar,” made by Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation in 2004. (Click on the image to watch a clip.) I first saw the video installation when it premiered a decade ago at the Whitney Biennial, but it’s about to go on view once again in a show of videos by female artists at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington. The conceit could hardly be simpler: “89 Seconds” captures what the scene looked like in the Alcázar palace in Madrid to either side of the instant that Velazquez committed to paint in “Las Meninas” — with the caveat that there never was such a “live” scene, and that Velazquez’s brush didn’t move at shutter speed. Sussman and co. are pretending to buy into the fiction and rhetoric of Velazquez’s realism, and by doing that they ask us to think harder about the claims that it makes. Amazing that in an age before cameras could record it, the world seemed ready for lens-y images. (Image courtesy Eve Sussman/Rufus Corporation)

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