Laura Owens Audio Guide Playlist
Charline von Heyl: That painting still is blowing my mind. I just love that seagull painting.
Narrator: Charline von Heyl is a painter. She’s friends with Laura Owens.
Charline von Heyl: It really illustrates everything that she is about, in a certain way. How can she only paint two seagulls in there and not twelve? Just the fact that you have the seagulls and you feel this immense space, and this feeling of freedom, seagull space. The next thing that your brain tells you is, “but it has shadow, and the shadow of the seagull is three inches away from the seagull.” That was also the first time, I think, that she introduced this weird thing that her paintings now have, which is they almost...what happens to you when you look at one of her paintings is very similar to what happens when you look at a pond, where you, at first, see the surface, and something’s floating on the surface. It’s crystal clear and just maybe two or three leaves. Then, you realize that it is just the surface, and that there’s a whole weight of depth under it.
Narrator: Owens first showed this seascape alongside other works in this room. If you look closely, you’ll see they’re all subtly interrelated. Find the dark still life that’s hanging nearby. It pictures flowers, and above them, a tiny mirror. If you look in that mirror, you’ll find a reflection of the painting with the seagulls.
Scott Rothkopf: Then, if you look at the white interior, you see sort of subtle images and perspectives of two other paintings. The one on the right is in fact a depiction of the black painting also hanging in this space. I think the way that she sets up a conversation about the room, about painting, and about our relationship to both those things in these three works is a really interesting, important aspect of her work.
Laura Owens, Untitled, 1997. Oil, acrylic, and airbrushed oil on canvas, 96 × 120 in. (243.8 × 304.8 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner P.2011.274. © Laura Owens