Laura Owens
Audio Guide Playlist


Scott Rothkopf: This painting from 1996 really captures a lot of Owens' interests at the start of her career. At first glance it looks sort of like a big abstract painting. But when you pull in closely, you see that these strange drops—are they water, are they tears?—are actually very thickly painted on the surface. 

You see this tension between the staining of the canvas on the one hand, and this almost vulgar, gross, icing-like treatment in the drops. Then, as you zoom in even closer, you find that there are little doodlings inside these drops. Little worlds that are hidden at first view. This relationship between cartooning on the one hand and ambitious painting on the other is a kind of unusual tension in the history of contemporary painting. 

It shows Owens trying to draw together different strands, different conversations, and make a work that, I think, pushes against accepted good taste, but at the same time draws us in. That notion of something being both appealing and a little repellent, something that questions what good art is supposed to look like, is really central to the way that she thinks about her work.


More Audio Guides

Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World audio guide
Toyin Ojih Odutola audio guide
An Incomplete History of Protest audio guide
An Incomplete History of Protest audio guide
Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium audio guide
Willa Nasatir audio guide