Before We Leave
Not on view
Overall: 84 × 144in. (213.4 × 365.8 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Committee and Chris Vroom and Illya Szilak
Rights and reproductions
© Arturo Herrera
Originally commissioned by the Whitney in 2001 and inspired by the simultaneously austere and welcoming architecture of the Museum’s Marcel Breuer building, Arturo Herrera’s Before We Leave consisted of three related parts: a painting traced directly onto the Madison Avenue windows of the Whitney’s façade; a geometric sculpture in the Sculpture Court, which functioned as a bench; and a large, cut-felt wall hanging. The latter emerged out of Herrera’s earlier felt works, in which an abstract form that plays with positive and negative space is cut as a cohesive design from a single fabric mass. In Before We Leave, the artist capitalizes on the tension between the predetermined nature of the cut-felt form and the apparent spontaneity invoked by the resemblance of its tangled web to the brash paint handling of Abstract Expressionism. Likewise, the work deliberately confuses various attributes of drawing, painting, and sculpture, existing as a kind of hybrid of these media.