Janine Antoni Butterfly Kisses 1996–99

  • Not on view

A labor–intensive response to time is integral to Antoni's Butterfly Kisses, for which the artist applied many coats of Cover Girl Thick Lash Mascara to her eyelashes then fluttered them against the paper. She averaged sixty winks per day and completed the drawing after approximately 2,124 winks, made over many months.

Gallery label from Out of Time: A Contemporary View, August 30, 2006–April 9, 2007.

Antoni is one of a number of artists who emerged in the early 1990s with a hybrid of performance and site-specific work. (Others include Andrea Zittel, Gabriel Orozco, and Rirkrit Tiravanija). This performative drawing is one of a series of four titled Butterfly Kisses. Contrary to the title's levity, this work is more than an amusing gesture. To make this drawing, Antoni applied Cover Girl Thick Lash mascara, then fluttered her eyelashes against a sheet of paper. She averaged sixty winks per day and completed the drawing after 2,124 winks, over many months. This almost unimaginably laborious act resulted in a complex and dense array of random lines. It places the work squarely in the tradition of aleatory, or chance-dependent, mark-making, from Surrealist automatic drawings to Robert Morris's Blind Time drawings of the 1970s and 1980s, made while blindfolded. Delicate yet lively, Butterfly Kisses's pulsating lines trace the movements of the artist's body in simultaneous homage to and parody of the muscular brushstrokes of Abstract Expressionism and the impersonal repetitions of serial Minimalism.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, p. 140.
Cover Girl Thick Lash mascara on paper
29 3/4 x 30" (75.6 x 76.2 cm)
Object number
Drawings and Prints

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