NEW YORK, NY.- The Guggenheim
recently acquired Mark Grotjahns 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 Guggenheims collection, Untitled (Blue Painting Light to Dark X) (2006), demonstrating how this important contemporary artist engages in different mediums and expanding the museums 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 Gallerys New York exhibition of Grotjahns masks, but was removed from their galleries prior to the exhibitions closing so that it could be included in the current Guggenheim exhibition Nows the Time: Recent Acquisitions.