Allan McCollum. Collection of Forty Plaster Surrogates. 1982 (cast and painted in 1984)

Allan McCollum Collection of Forty Plaster Surrogates 1982 (cast and painted in 1984)

  • Not on view

McCollum has clustered together plaster models of forty monochromatic paintings of various sizes in the dense display style of a nineteenth-century salon. To produce this work, the artist and his assistants engaged in repetitive and communal labor that systematized and broke down the artistic process into stages of production: the creation of molds, the casting of plaster, and the application of enamel paint to create a smooth surface with no trace of the artist’s hand. Although the panels were all executed in this way, no two share the same dimensions and frame color. Handmade but standardized, Collection of Forty Plaster Surrogates integrates art and mass production, challenging conventional distinctions between these types of labor.

Gallery label from Contemporary Galleries: 1980-Now, November 17, 2011-February 17, 2014.

McCollum has clustered together what appear to be forty monochromatic paintings of various sizes in the dense display style of a nineteenth-century salon. The works are not framed paintings, however, but plaster objects whose black surfaces yield no images or painterly incident. By endowing these cast objects—nearly identical plaster forms with painted perimeters and central "pictures" of uniformly applied black enamel—with the bare-bones characteristics of paintings, McCollum confounds viewers' expectations, heightening their awareness of how they recognize and act toward art. To produce this work, McCollum and his assistants engaged in repetitive and communal labor. To a degree, he transformed the artist's studio into an assembly line and a workshop and systematized the artistic process into stages of production: create molds, cast plaster, apply enamel paint. Although the panels were all executed in this way, no two panels share the same dimensions and frame color. Handmade but standardized, Collection of Forty Plaster Surrogates integrates art and mass production. McCollum asks viewers to rethink conventional distinctions between types of labor and to take into consideration the human effort embedded in all objects, artistic and otherwise.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 56.
Medium
Enamel on cast Hydrostone
Dimensions
Forty panels ranging from 5 x 4 1/8" (12.8 x 10.2 cm) to 20 1/4 x 16 1/4" (51.3 x 41.1 cm), overall 64" x 9' 2" (162.5 x 279.4 cm)
Credit
Robert and Meryl Meltzer and Robert F. and Anna Marie Shapiro Funds
Object number
417.1988.a-nn
Copyright
© 2019 Allan McCollum
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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