Sylvia Plimack Mangold

Floor with Horizontal Mirror

Not on view



Acrylic and fabricated chalk on canvas

Overall: 51 1/4 × 67 5/8in. (130.2 × 171.8 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Mr. and Mrs. William A. Marsteller

Rights and reproductions
© 1974 Sylvia Plimack Mangold


The subject of Sylvia Plimack Mangold’s Floor with Horizontal Mirror could not be more mundane. In the painting—as in many of her works of the mid-1960s to mid-1970s—she depicts the interior of her studio, rendering sections of its floor, baseboard, and wall with meticulous representational rigor. The painting testifies to Mangold’s talents of verisimilitude—every knot and striation in the parquet has been faithfully captured. At the same time, the oak-framed mirror, propped up against the wall so that it reflects the floor on which it rests, emphasizes the work’s status as a spatial conceit. The mirror allows for the illusion of depth, but a narrow outer band inset in its frame returns attention back to the canvas surface. No trace of Mangold appears in the space reflected by the mirror (where she would need to be positioned in order to capture this scene). For her part, the artist maintains that her subject is perception itself; her work is “not about fooling the eye, but about questioning the nature of painting and, thereby, levels of reality.”