Roni Horn Untitled (Aretha) 2002-04

  • Not on view

This piece grew out of Horn's early fascination with stained glass windows and her subsequent training in glassmaking. It was cast from the highly refined and completely transparent optical glass used for manufacturing lenses and prisms. The title, which Horn intends to act as "an entrance to something but never an explanation," refers to the legendary vocalist Aretha Franklin.

Gallery label from Multiplex: Directions in Art, 1970 to Now, November 21, 2007-July 28, 2008.
Additional text

This brilliantly red sculpture was cast in Germany from a highly refined form of glass used for manufacturing lenses and prisms. While its slightly recessed upper surface is as smooth as the surface of still water, its four sides register the irregularities produced by the mold. This seemingly simple sculpture is deeply paradoxical: glass is a famously delicate material, and yet here over a ton of it seems profoundly sturdy. At the same time, like an ice cube, this solid form seems to hold within itself the memory of its formerly liquid state.

Horn, whose richly diverse corpus includes drawing, photography, and sculpture, places the meaning of all her work in viewers’ interactions with it. There is nothing to be translated; the physical, cognitive, and emotional experience of looking at and moving around the work produces its meaning. In this case, the full experience of the work relies on its being seen in daylight, for only then is the extraordinary intensity of the glass apparent. The title provides a further dimension for the viewer: the silent cube may be imagined to throb with the singing of legendary female vocalist Aretha Franklin. Horn says that Untitled (Aretha) is "the result of growing up with Aretha’s voice," and she posits the rich blood red of the glass as its visual equivalent.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art , MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 231.
Optical glass
13 x 30 x 30" (33 x 76.2 x 76.2 cm)
Gift of Kathy and Richard S. Fuld, Jr.
Object number
© 2024 Roni Horn
Painting and Sculpture

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