Art News: Dike Blair at Gagosian and Raphael: Cartoons and Tapestries for the Sistine Chapel

20 Sep


The relationship between my paintings and sculpture (or other installation-type work) has intrigued me for a couple decades. The paintings are fairly traditional and almost always personal while the sculptures are more formal, or engage less traditional forms. One thing that seems to have remained constant in all my work is the subject of light, and how to form paint to apprehend light.Dike Blair

Gagosian Gallery is currently exhibiting new gouaches and sculpture by Dike Blair through October 30 , 2010.

In this first exhibition since his recent 10-year survey at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Blair continues to explore the relationship between painting and sculpture, between the solid, utilitarian reality of three-dimensional forms and the field of illusory visual effects.

Blair’s recent hybrid sculptures are comprised of painted, wooden shipping crates that contain framed, gouache paintings, which unpack to become part of a larger assemblage. The crates may also contain objects, like painted carpets or Noguchi lamps. The sculptures may evoke thoughts about light, both actual and implied, the liminal, and more quotidian notions about storage, furniture and the human body.

In his more recent sculpture, he has dispensed with artificial lights in favor of a heightened painterly luminism. His photo-based gouaches capture glimpses of a roving eye that seeks out and captures a split second, dead-pan phenomenon of the observed world. They bring attention to the banal and transitory details of everyday life, from cigarettes in ashtrays to footprints in snow. They feel at once very personal, even diaristic, but also filtered and mediated.

In this exhibition, Blair has constructed an ambulatory installation that further links the transient aspects of his sculptures with the fugitive images of his paintings. The resulting works pause in time to quietly provoke a reevaluation of the complexities of visual and spatial perception in the modern world.

Dike Blair was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania in 1952. He studied at the University of Colorado, the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture before receiving his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1977. He is also a writer and a professor at RISD. A collection of his writings, “Again: Selected Interviews and Essays” was published by WhiteWalls in 2007. In 2009, he was the subject of a ten-year survey at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

Public collections include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Blair lives and works in New York.


The famous Raphael Cartoons and a display of four of the ten tapestries designed by Raphael for the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, are currently on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum. These are the original tapestries from the only series designed by Raphael of which examples survive, and are comparable with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling as masterpieces of High Renaissance art.

The tapestries, of the Acts of St Peter and St Paul, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, Christ’s Charge to Peter, The Healing of the Lame Man, and The Sacrifice at Lystra, were made for the Sistine Chapel almost 500 years ago. Raphael was commissioned by Pope Leo X to design these great tapestries, which were woven in Brussels, Europe’s leading centre for tapestry-weaving, and then sent to Rome for display.

The Cartoons belong to The Queen, but have been on long-term loan to the V&A since Queen Victoria lent them in 1865.

This is the first time that the designs and tapestries have been displayed together – something Raphael himself never witnessed. The tapestries have never been shown before in the UK.

In this special film, ‘A Tale of Two Raphaels’ by the Victoria and Albert Museum, Evans visits the V&A and Windsor Castle to reveal how Raphael made the cartoons which were used to make tapestries by specialist weavers in Brussels and how they come to be at the V&A. Meanwhile, in Rome, Vatican Museum Curator, Professor Arnold Nesselrath explains how Raphael applied his ‘universal genius’ to sculpture, architecture and tapestry as well as painting

As a prelude to their display alongside the Cartoons used to create them at the V&A in September, Raphael’s famous tapestries were hung in the Sistine Chapel in July. Waldemar Januszczak explains why he made a special trip to Rome.

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