Monday, March 31, 2008

Time and Space

An installation photograph from (In)discrete Objects, the 2005 exhibition of works by Timothy Horn organized by the Knoxville Museum of Art, Tennessee.

When I started this blog several years ago now, I suppose I already had a pretty clear sense of the kind of objects and artwork I respond to... clever appropriation of historical designs (like Jo Meester's vases in the previous post), or contemporary interpretations of long-forgotten fads (like Barbara Uderzo's succulent rings).

In that same vein is Timothy Horn, an Australian-born artist working in the United States. Horn's remarkably strange and curious pieces are based on antique jewelry designs, but blown up to such an enormous scale that they create a unnerving distortion, as if one has looked through someone else's glasses. Horn's fascination lies at the intersection of the intimacy of ornament and the vulgarity of beauty. There, the subtle decoration of an 18th century hair comb becomes a glittering, indulgent and discotheque-like wall sculpture.

I Want Candy, 2001
Nickel plated bronze, cast lead crystal, easter egg foil, 35.5 x 25.5 x 4 inches

I Want Candy, detail

More recently, Horn has turned to antique furniture, particularly the designs of Thomas Chippendale, for inspiration in the appropriation game. By digitally distorting Chippendale patterns, Horn created "new" designs that he then carved in wax. The wax designs were then used to make molds, from which he could cast replicas in rubber. The wobbly pieces, seeming all the more surreal for their honey color, can then be mounted on the wall... and wiggled or manipulated by curious viewers. In the words of the Albany University Art Museum, who organized an exhibition of his work in 2006, Horn's furniture sculptures turn "tasteful sources [into] objects that creep, ooze, and dangle down the walls with a libidinal force all their own." The intersection of intimacy and vulgarity has proven a fruitful place.

Silk Purse (Sow's Ear), 2005
translucent polyurethane rubber, 47 x 34 x 6 inches

Silk Purse (Sow's Ear), detail

Mutton Dressed as Lamb, 2005
transparent rubber, 40 x 30 x 9 inches - edition of 3

Mutton Dressed as Lamb, detail

Horn's work will be featured in three US exhibitions opening this summer: solo shows at the ICA in San Jose and the de Young Museum in San Francisco, and a group exhibition at the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe. He's represented by Hosfelt Gallery, which at the moment has more information than his own developing website,

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