Marco Breuer. Pan (C-279). 2003

Marco Breuer Pan (C-279) 2003

  • Not on view

Breuer creates works on photographic paper without a camera. Instead of using the paper to register an image, he abrades, burns, punctures, or otherwise manipulates it, accepting as the final work the paper’s chemical and physical responses to these excoriations. To make Pan (C-279) he first exposed and developed the sensitized paper, turning it black. Then he scored it with a sharp blade to get at the minutely differentiated layers of color—cyan, magenta, black, and yellow—in the paper's emulsion. The highlights were achieved by scattering grains of sand beneath the paper at the time of scoring, giving the impression of volume to the flat surface.

Breuer's process of breaking down the paper to reveal its physical components offers a rare glimpse into what makes color photography possible. His visually lush and elegantly simple pictures often look more like paintings or drawings than photographs. Built line by line through a process of subtraction, this work recalls Agnes Martin's exquisitely handcrafted painted surfaces and Gerhard Richter's squeegee-scrape paintings. Breuer's experimental aesthetic also belongs to the tradition of cameraless photography (or photogram) that stretches from inventor William Henry Fox Talbot through Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy to the present.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 250.
Chromogenic paper, scratched
23 1/2 × 19 3/8" (59.7 × 49.2 cm)
Fund for the Twenty-First Century
Object number
© 2022 Marco Breuer

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