Whitney Biennial 2014

Solo en Inglès

Hear directly from artists as they discuss the thoughts, processes, and ideas behind their work in the 2014 Biennial. The guide also features commentary from Biennial curators Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms, and Michelle Grabner.

410Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, Notley, 2013


Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, _Notley_, 2013, Latex housepaint, enamel, and spray paint on dropcloth (hinged, in two attached parts), 96 × 132 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago. Photography by Tom Van Eynde

NARRATOR: Molly Zuckerman-Hartung’s painting Notley is structured around a very large “no.” But the painting isn’t simply an act of refusal. Zuckerman-Hartung’s use of language is complicated by other kinds of imagery. There are references to the body—in the middle of the “O” for example. Molly Zuckerman-Hartung. 

MOLLY ZUCKERMAN-HARTUNG: I was totally thinking about a rib cage and I was even thinking about a kind of vagina going on at the base of the rib cage [laughs]. I think there's a kind of ridiculousness to the level of references that I'm trying to get out of it, I was thinking about landscape in terms of the sort of perspectival lines.

I hope that people will just sort of have an experience of it. It's 11 by 8 feet, so it quickly stops being language, and you quickly have a much more material or touch-based relationship to it. 

The mark making process is a process of spray painting these dots, and then using a Dremel to cross them out with a jagged mark. This simple dichotomy of a zigzaggy line, versus a circle, which is basically what a "no" is composed of. And so reducing what looks like language to gesture, to a very simple binary of gestures—zigzag versus dot, zigzag versus dot—and the roundness versus angularity, these are really simple dichotomies within abstraction that I have been engaging with for many years. In terms of whether you're painting a triangle, or you're painting a curvy line, and how they feel. Maybe one acts more cerebral, one is more bodily. 

NARRATOR: The painting is named after Alice Notley, a poet whose book Disobedience questions poetic traditions that have long been associated with masculinity. Zuckerman-Hartung’s painting Notley is, in some ways, also an act of disobedience against the tradition of abstract painting.  

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