In 1915, under the pressure of photography and the praise of its unprecedented "truthful" representation, Russian artist Kazimir Malevich painted his first Black Square. What good was painting in an era of mechanical reproduction? Since then, artists have continued to absolve image, gesture, and individual expression in favor of the monochromatic void. Their monoliths are absolutist: they contain no emotion, no narrative, and no signature; they are photographically irreproducible; they silently aim to transcend their creator and materials in the name of collective experience. In many ways, the history of black monochromatic painting can be read as a history of negation itself.
Will Brown is pleased to present Untitled (Black Painting), a history of black monochromatic painting in the form of a present tense negation; an absolute inversion of the white cube gallery. On the walls of our black, objectless installation hover white outlines of the most important black monochromes since 1915. True to scale and too large to fit comfortably in our space, the edges of the original works overlap, ultimately becoming engulfed by the edges of the physical exhibition space. Under the circumstances, the specific objects in question become the plaster, the moulding, the piping, and the ceiling. In wrestling with real estate rather than canvas, Untitled (Black Painting) explores the struggle between the loftily idealistic and acutely concrete at the heart of realizing a contemporary non-commercial exhibition venue.
The exhibition is accompanied by a program elucidating the various intertwined and evolving ideologies of the black monochrome. Featuring: Kazimir Malevich, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Frank Stella, Richard Serra, Sean Scully, Glen Ligon, Wade Guyton, and Rashid Johnson.