An Artist’s Talk by R.H. Quaytman

“I seek to maintain and simultaneously disrupt painting’s absolute presence.”

R.H. Quaytman is an internationally exhibited artist based in New York. Recent exhibitions of her work include: Passing Through the Opposite of What It Approaches, Chapter 25, at The Renaissance Society in Chicago; “Dalet, Chapter 24,” Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany; Spine, Chapter 20, at the Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland; and participated in the Venice Bienniale in 2011 and the Whitney Biennial in 2010. Quaytman is a member of the painting faculty at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College in New York.

Quaytman’s work puts the place of painting under pressure in a manner reminiscent of T.J. Clark’s description of the historical pressures exerted upon the aesthetic forms of modernism by the political and technological forms of modernity. Quaytman brings a range of image producing technologies to bare upon painting but in place of Clark’s steam engine, the ideal and threatening synecdoche of industrialization, Quaytman forces painting into relation with the informatic and aesthetic structures of the book.

Rigorously conceived in terms of chapters, Quaytman’s exhibitions since 2001 engage in the complex arrangement of multiple continuities and discontinuities according to the possibilities inherent in the book form as much as they operate in emphatically optical terms. With the publication of Spine in 2011, a 400 page review of the first 20 chapters of Quaytman’s work within this structure, Quaytman offered a detailed analysis of this relation.

This should not be taken to mean that the book becomes an identificatory point of projection for painting, so much as the structures of the book serve to bring painting into a formal rather than a signifying relationship to language, to works of history and poetry. According to David Joselit, Quaytman, along with a number of other contemporary artists, is engaged in what he has named “transitive painting” – a practice in which qualities and attributes pass from one activity or object into another. Thus the effort in Quaytman’s work, is oriented to a reconsideration of the nature of relation itself (not just that which is related) between artistic mediums, histories and milieus.

In addition to working with the MFA students in studio visits and their seminar, we will have the opportunity to hear Quaytman discuss both the historical and contemporary dimension of her practice at a public talk at 5:30pm on February 26.


Renaissance Society Chicago

Rhea Anastas on Quaytman

David Joselit interview with R.H. Quaytman