Yesterday morning I spent time with the ‘Paintings’ drawers – these are colour coded red, there are 281 drawers in this section. They form a large part of the collection. I was rather overwhelmed by them to begin with, but they are an exciting and rather tantalizing collection – every (known) painter is possibly included here, somewhere. The drawers are first ordered by chronological geographical location, then within the drawer by chronological surname.
I started with the first drawer: African: Congo-Uganda/ Algerian// American: Abb-Dav. Just this drawer alone has led me to discover artists and works I never knew of – alongside some of the more well known works. There is an interesting democracy at work in a drawer such as this; artworks which would never be exhibited together here sit side by side; artists who would never come together geographically nor periodically, are divided by letter alone. The collection of slides dismantles art historical categories of style and canonisation, purely through their placement in a drawer space. I like to think it of it as a rather radical challenging of traditional art historical methods. In this drawer African artists meet American artists, each with their own typed or hand-written slide card of title, date and artist’s name, but nothing to suggest value or worth, or an imposed interpretation.
I’ve picked out a few works which caught my eye:
Chéri Samba, The Draughtsman, Chéri Samba (1981)
Chike C. Aniakor, The Allegory of Power (1996)
Thomas Hart Benton, Deep South [one of three murals] (1930-31)
Paul Cadmus, YMCA Locker Room (1931)
Stuart Davis, The Paris Bit (1959)
George Brecht, Silence (1966)
One of the conceptual artist-musician’s “word gestures”: rather appropriately, I can’t find this image online.