Painting Air: Spencer Finch is a major exhibition by Brooklyn-based artist Spencer Finch. In this two-part show, the museum debuts a large-scale installation by Finch, shown with more than 60 pieces—from ancient objects to late-20th-century art— selected by the artist from the Museum’s collection.
The work of Impressionist painter Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926) serves as the aesthetic touchstone for both parts of the exhibition, and even informed its title. Painting Air comes from a statement Monet made in 1895: “I want to paint the air… and that is nothing short of impossible.” Finch’s new installation, Painting Air (2012), created for the exhibition, seeks to capture the movement and reflection the artist observed in a recent visit to Monet’s water garden in Giverny. For both Finch (RISD MFA ’89) and Monet, the pond at Giverny served as a laboratory in which they merge the experience of nature with the art-making process. Finch evokes his experience by suspending 100 transparent and highly reflective glass panels in the middle of an expansive, 150-linear-foot mural comprised of 35 colors. Light and color shift across the surfaces of the gently swaying panels, reflecting the painting and the movements of visitors, and transforming viewers’ perspectives from one moment to the next.
“As abstract and ephemeral as some of Finch’s projects appear to be, they are based in fact and scientific phenomena. He acutely observes natural occurrences, which he then filters through memory as well as literary, artistic, and scientific accounts. The results are often poetic, as he tries to make visible what cannot easily be seen,” says Judith Tannenbaum, Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art.
Through July 29, 2012
THE MUSEUM OF ART RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN