David Reed: Over the Edge

                                 

by Deanna Sirlin

 

David Reed

#633, 2012-2013
28 x 118 inches
Oil and alkyd on polyester

All artworks © 2017 David Reed / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


 

Everyone on the edge of the Grand Canyon was afraid his neighbor, his friend, would jump. I liked to imagine jumping. I ran for the edge, vaulted the guard rail, flung myself into space, feet first, sleeves flapping.

—David Reed

These paintings resulted from a very physical process of making black or red strokes across a white ground. The strokes move from left to right across the canvas and the brush picks up the under-painted color, which mixes into each brushstroke and makes it more articulated. The horizontal strokes result from each the sweep of his arm attached to the brush that “is a kind of action irregardless of consequences.” Each painting is also constructed of several panels that are attached to one another; when the brush hits the edge of one panel and moves onto the next, there is a small division of the stroke. The movement of the paint and this physical division are in sync with the artist’s movement and body. It is interesting to note here Reed’s interest in film. His panels, whose proportions are analogous those of his studio’s architecture, are also like film frames that form a continuous action and image despite the breaks between them. In this work from 1975, Reed “vaulted the guard rail” of painting by allowing the process of making the painting to be meaning of the painting.

Over the decades, Reed has investigated and recontextualized the brushstrokes he originally made and showed in 1975. The brushstroke becomes a language for the artist to use as a signifier for the act and physicality of painting. Certain aspects of the brushstroke and the slight drip appear again in Reed’s more recent paintings, such as #628 which has a small rectangle inset in the larger horizontal rectangle of the canvas. #633 has painted breaks that divide and pause the movement of the undulating brushstroke underneath that call up the breaks in the panels from 1975.

 

Reed continuously takes notes on and records the process of his own work. In the exhibition Vice and Reflection—An Old Painting, New Paintings and Animations, David Reed’s exhibition at the Perez Art Museum Miami (November 29- May 21, 2017) Reed investigates his painting, #212 (Vice), 1984-85 a long horizontal work made of multiple strokes of a manganese blue that has a kind of inky transparent presence that curves and divides his canvas. There are bands of lemon yellow on top of the blue painted image as well as two narrow bars of color, one a deep indigo blue and one in the lemon yellow color at the bottom of the canvas. Reed found this color on the TV show Miami Vice, known for the intensity of its color and the crispness of its reflections and representations of light. Reed created this exhibition from reinvestigating this painting to explore reflection, color, and movement.

An important part of the Vice and Reflection exhibition are a series of working drawings that meticulously record Reed’s process of making the new paintings from the older image. These are detailed documents of color studies and painting notations. Colors, density and movements are recorded to document the artist’s making of his paintings. I am reminded of paintings by Josef Albers, where he recorded the exact brand and color of paint that he used on the back of each canvas. By exhibiting these studio notes, Reed is revealing the process of making his work, thus rendering it transparent.

In a sketchbook page that was published by Offsite, Reed writes about his experience with color and the resonance it has for him.  Reed cites the color in a 16th century Italian painting, Christ At the Whipping Post by Francesco Vanni, that he had seen the Collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. He recorded his thoughts from visiting this work in 1991, 1993, and 1997 in his notebook. Reed reflects on the color of the flesh tones and how it relates to a Technicolor palette

David Reed is an artist who for over forty years has understood who is and what he has done. He has investigated and recorded his own work as well as placed it in larger contexts of art and culture. Reed’s exhibition Painting Paintings (David Reed)1975 was first shown at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University (September 11 –December 11, 2016), then at Gagosian Gallery in New York (January 17 –February 25, 2017), and will be at 356 S. Mission Rd (April 1- May 21, 2017) in Los Angeles, California. Artist and art critic Walter Robison announced humorously at a panel discussion at the Whitney Museum, Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s, in February 2017 that Reed’s showing paintings that were originally exhibited at Susan Caldwell Gallery in 1975 so many years later was “his plan all along.”

David Reed

Working Drawing for Painting #658, 2016

 Mixed media on graph paper.17 x 22 inches.

All artworks © 2017 David Reed / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Courtesy the artist; Peter Blum Gallery, New York; Häusler Contemporary Munich/Zurich.

 

 

 

 

 

Painting Paintings (David Reed) 1975

Curated by Katy Siegel and Christopher Wool Installation view 

All artworks © 2017 David Reed / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Photo by Rob McKeever 

Courtesy Gagosian

 

 

David Reed, #212 (Vice), 1984-1985

Oil and alkyd on linen. 24 x 101  inches

Collection of Marjorie and Charles Van Dercook

All artworks © 2017 David Reed / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Deanna Sirlin is an artist. Sirlin recently finished Before You Leap, a Public Art Commission  for Emmett O'Brien Technical High School for the Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA). Sirlin is pictured here [yellow hard hat] during the installation of this work  with her insurance agent, Kathy Crooker. She is Editor-in-Chief of  The Art Section. 

 

www.deannasirlin.com

 

In recent paintings, I have often used both pale and full strength magenta in relation to pale blue or turquoise. These are the basic colors of Technicolor film, the colors from which all the other colors in these films derive. Since cyan and magenta are thus the strongest colors in the Technicolor, I feel that paintings emphasizing these colors have a sense of the cinematic and the fantastic.

This suggests the relationship of Reed’s process to different aspects of film and television. The visual dialogues in which he is engaged inform his color and strokes. With Vice and Reflection, Reed brought multiple forces into play in a single exhibition. He responded to the space of the gallery and the large window on one painting. Here he allowed the size of the window to determine the size of his painting and hung them side by side. Reed placed two TV monitors in the center of the gallery, one a vintage screen playing the Miami Vice pilot episode. On the actual monitor on which Reed watched Miami Vice when it premiered in 1984, he exhibited a clip from the pilot into which he inserted his painting #212 Vice on the black hood of a car. Reed was enamored with the reflections in this program; he added his own work seamlessly to the image, bonding the two together. On other side of the gallery, a newer flat screen monitor played a clip from the 2006 Miami Vice film directed by Michael Mann (who had been the Executive Producer of the television version). Tobias Ostrander of the Vice and Reflection exhibition, suggests that Reed is indulging in a kind of “vice or aesthetic sin” by intentionally going against the doctrines of the art critic Clement Greenberg, whose ideas still held sway in the New York art world when Reed arrived there.

Greenberg categorically rejected representation in favor of abstraction. As far as he was concerned, paintings can only meaningfully represent themselves and the formal properties of paint. By embracing film and television, Reed challenges Greenberg’s doctrine as well as his disdain for mass culture. Reed recontextualizes abstraction by placing his paintings inside the world of film, not only in Miami Vice but also in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and other films. Reed has written that the “The Vertigo bedrooms exist in our memories and imaginations. Inserted into them my paintings are in a private, intimate space. But these imaginations are also a real public space, which we all share.”

In a different essay, Reed sites his interest in Vertigo again, “For example, in her bedroom in Hitchcock’s, “Vertigo”, Judy’s skin is tinted with the light of the neon turquoise sign outside the window. Perhaps when we identify with figures in films we sense that our own skin has been modified by these tinted gradations of hyper-color. Rather than by a sense of touch on skin, our emotions are activated through some kind of inner force: tactility through vision.”

In each decade of his life as an artist, Reed has challenged the idea of art as existing in a vacuum and places his work firmly in the context of the culture at large. Reed’s interest in popular culture is clearly evident in his work. The brushstroke paintings he made in 1975, which relate self-referentially to the architecture of his studio and the physically of his painting process, have become the text he has reworked in subsequent decades. The breaks between the cinematic “frames” of the 1975 paintings reappear in the divisions and shifts of the works that follow. His colors are drawn from television and film; the proportions of his canvases resemble the aspect ratios of film or television screens. His exhibiting his notes, which are almost a recipe book or diary of the process of making a painting, strikes a blow against the idea that artistic process is ineffable or arcane. And his insertion of his paintings into films and television programs places them in real world contexts, in the sense that the films and programs are artifacts of the real world, while simultaneously engaging with these materials as fictional narratives and implicitly addressing the fictions around art itself.

 

 

 Painting Paintings (David Reed) 1975

Curated by Katy Siegel and Christopher Wool Installation view 

All artworks © 2017 David Reed / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Rob McKeever 

 Courtesy Gagosian

David Reed

#635, 2000-2011
40 x 140 inches
Oil and alkyd on linen

All artworks © 2017 David Reed / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

David Reed

Notebook from visits to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

All artworks © 2017 David Reed / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

David Reed: Vice and Reflection- An Old Painting, New Paintings and Animations

Installation view, Pérez Art Museum, Miami 

All artworks © 2017 David Reed / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Photo by Silvia Ros

Courtesy Peter Blum Gallery / Häusler Contemporary

David Reed: Vice and Reflection- An Old Painting, New Paintings and Animations

Installation view, Pérez Art Museum, Miami 

All artworks © 2017 David Reed / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Photo by Silvia Ros

Courtesy Peter Blum Gallery / Häusler Contemporary

 David Reed #611, 2010-2011
24 x 120 inches
Oil and alkyd on polyester

All artworks © 2017 David Reed / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Francesco Vanni
Christ at the Whipping Post (1596)
63.2 x 45.3 inches
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

David Reed

Still Frame. Pilot episode Miami Vice 1984:

Reflection, 2016. Silent video, 59 second loop.

All artworks © 2017 David Reed / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Courtesy the artist; Peter Blum Gallery, New York; Häusler Contemporary Munich/Zurich 

Painting Paintings (David Reed) 1975 Curated by Katy Siegel and Christopher Wool lopens April 1 - May 21, 2017

356 S.Mission, Los Angeles, California