Q-tips, ladders, plants and small appliances, toothpicks, and pills are among the dozens, even hundreds, of mundane objects that fill Sze's anything-but-mundane installations. Typically commissioned to fill a specific, often unusual, space—from entire galleries to closets, corners, and staircases—these meandering assemblages and environments celebrate the poetry of everyday life.
Sze came into prominence in the late 1990s with her painstakingly engineered constructions. At that time she also started to experiment with printmaking, creating a delicate lithograph that related to her drawing style. In 2001 her printmaking expanded in both size and scope, beginning with this untitled print completed over two years. Sze's approach grew from her three-dimensional work; here she presents an imaginary universe that draws on her interest in the basic components of art and architecture (including scale, perspective, composition, and movement). Full of abstract elements and references to buildings and infrastructure, this monumental print creates a dynamic sense of motion when viewed at a distance and offers exhaustive narrative details upon a closer look. It was produced using a combination of printmaking techniques: screenprint for the flat areas of color, digital tools to reprocess aspects of preexisting work, and lithography for the hand-drawn linework.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art , p. 219.
Sarah Sze came to prominence in the late 1990s with elaborate site-specific installations that comprise an endless number of seemingly random household objects such as plants, ladders, small appliances, containers of water, Q-tips, matches, and pills. Filling entire galleries or more unusual spaces such as closets, staircases, and corners—even extending through walls and below ground outdoors—Sze's engineered constructions convert otherwise unexceptional objects and spaces into mysterious, imaginary universes that frequently contain subtle moving parts. In 1998 Sze completed her first print, a two-panel lithograph of modest scale made at Derrière L'Étoile Studios, New York, that relates to her delicate line drawings from that time. In 2001 she was invited by The LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies—a non-profit center that promotes printmaking through its workshop, classes, and gallery at Columbia University—to create this second print. Encouraged by the supportive atmosphere of this collaborative setting, Sze subsequently made two additional prints there based on this Untitled work. Sze's approach relates to her interest in reinterpreting the basic components of art and architecture: scale, perspective, depth, composition, a sense of movement, and references to specific locations. Like her installations, this print is both imposing in scale and intimate in detail, offering a dynamic abstract composition when viewed at a distance, but full of narrative imagery the closer one looks. The print was produced using several techniques: screenprint for the areas of flat, dense color; digital tools to reprocess compositional aspects of preexisting works; and lithography for the hand-drawn linework.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Judith Hecker, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 261.