A retrospective worthy of the Museum of Modern Art, five decades of sculpture by the late California minimalist John McCracken is currently on view in the David Zwirner Gallery in New York. Praised for his candy-colored wall-leaning planks that blur the line between painting and sculpture, I most enjoy his work’s ability to confuse reality and reflection.
The surfaces of these fiberglass & resin coated plywood structures are SO perfect that it’s difficult (downright impossible in a few) to look at the sculptures themselves before your eyes focus instead on the room reflected in them. My approach to photographing the show was therefore not to avoid the reflections, but shoot the show through them.
McCracken spent hours painting, sanding, and polishing each of these by hand. The result is oxymoronic: objects both perfect and human.
In 2011, the last year of his life, McCracken went “full mirror” with polished stainless steel and bronze. The triangular column above nearly disappears as it fragments the staircase by architect Annabelle Selldorf (a work of art itself).
Upstairs, a room of smaller sculptures is my favorite. They pack the same visual punch as the monumental plank and column works downstairs yet possess a greater sense of preciousness… like Fabergé eggs of our time.
Nearby, a row of his sketches are protected by Plexiglas “frames” which (intentionally or not) catch the reflection of neighboring sculptures, and like this entire exhibition, reveal something new and unexpected with every shift of perspective.
All Images courtesy David Zwirner Gallery, New York. © The Estate of John McCracken. Photographed by David Behringer.