From Malevich’s monochrome Black Square to Chanel’s legendary LBD, black means many things: mystery, mourning, sophistication, obliteration, anarchy. It’s the color of voids, of caviar and India ink. Printmakers choose from Bone Black, Stiff Black, Vine Black and French Black. The Impressionists never touched it.
Here are eleven shades of black by eleven artists. When asked about it, Shaun Kardinal realized he’d never used black material in his embroideries and took it on as a challenge, creating Connotation no. 28 (Black). Julie Alexander says: “I have a confession to make. Canary Curtain has no black in it, but graphite grey. It just reads as black.” Both Allyce Wood and Anne Blackburn use synthetic materials to make rubbery, Baroque bouquets that challenge assumptions about material use, invasion and natural-versus-artificial beauty. Anna Telcs taps into a gothic, haute couture style evocative of 19th century mourning dress. Curtis Erlinger’s black is muddled by a thin cloth scrim, as if to soften its austerity. In his video Taking myself out of the picture, Steve Sewell literally paints himself black after painting the wall behind him. When projected, the light from the video is gradually reduced to nothing, finally blotting out both artist and image and leaving the viewer in the dark.
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