December 18, 2012
The Guggenheim recently acquired Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled (Ten Dollar Foxes, White on Red Mask M14.d) (2012), a bronze sculpture cast from one in a series of cardboard masks the artist created over the past decade. The work offers a formal counterpoint to the painting by Grotjahn in the Guggenheim’s collection, Untitled (Blue Painting Light to Dark X) (2006), demonstrating how this important contemporary artist engages in different mediums and expanding the museum’s holdings of his work.
Grotjahn has become widely recognized for his “butterfly” paintings, which experiment with one-point perspective, a technique developed in the Renaissance to create an illusion of depth, but which Grotjahn sets slightly askew to create paintings that combine elements of geometric abstraction and shifting spatial illusion. More recently the artist has explored the perception of the face in his Face series, which presents abstracted suggestions of facial features: multiple outlined ovals recall piercing glances, lines allude to the bridge of a nose. Similarly, the masks created in cardboard are fitted with anthropomorphizing features. However, the masks are rooted in more personal terms, with Grotjahn often using them as a private form of artistic release.
These works begin with cardboard salvaged from cases of beer, paper-towel rolls, and other domestic goods, which Grotjahn forms into masks and casts in bronze using lost-mold casting. He paints the resulting sculpture, at times using his fingers, producing vibrant and chunky mask-like objects at once reminiscent of primitivist works and childhood fantasy.
The Guggenheim purchased Untitled (Ten Dollar Foxes, White on Red Mask M14.d) with gifted funds in 2012. The work was included in Gagosian Gallery’s New York exhibition of Grotjahn’s masks, but was removed from their galleries prior to the exhibition’s closing so that it could be included in the current Guggenheim exhibition Now’s the Time: Recent Acquisitions.
Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (Ten Dollar Foxes, White on Red Mask M14.d), 2012 (detail). Painted bronze, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Purchased with gifted funds, 2012. © Mark Grotjahn. Photo: Kristopher McKay © SRGF