Artwork of the month May

Polly Apfelbaum, Bones, 2000

Polly Apfelbaum

* 1955 in Abington, PA, USA

Bones, 2000

9 rolls of painted and dyed velvet

approx. 254 x 152.4 cm; length of unrolled fabric variable, up to 18 m

Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz


Bones consists of nine rolls of fabric lying directly on the floor: pieces of velvet of different lengths, dyed and painted, are rolled up on cardboard tubes, some of which protrude at the end. They lie there in a row, one alongside the other, equal in width but with irregular spacing. The manner in which they are laid out, the hues and patterns create a rhythmic arrangement. Different predominant colours and applications of colour also induce the eye to search for systems of order. Four rolls are predominantly pink, three are pale yellow, and two are different shades of blue. The viewers see only partial areas of the applications of colour. Each area is two-coloured, consisting of narrow irregular stripes flowing into and out of each other. There are hints of colour systems and their use is vivaciously soft and inventive throughout.

Polly Apfelbaum works with the devices of painting, also deploying them in her sculpture and installation. Her work is divided into the categories Floor, Wall, Table, Ceiling and Outside, with Bones belonging to the floor pieces. Rolled up, the work has the appearance of a three-dimensional arrangement rather than painting. However, the viewer can imagine the act of unrolling when contemplating the work. As such, there is something secretive and performative about the work. From up close, we see that the back of the fabric is on the outside. Like the actual image on the lengths of fabric covered with graduated colours, the velvety right side remains invisible. In the exhibition Skin and Bones the artist has spread out one of the rolls behind a wall, referring to this procedure as "keeping something private".

Following the oft-proclaimed "death of painting", Apfelbaum has devised a very individual form of expression based on her conceptual, highly sensitive modus operandi. She alludes to craft techniques associated with handicrafts as well as to heroically male-formulated movements and gestures of art, for example action painting, pop art or minimalism.

Susanne Kudorfer

<b>Polly Apfelbaum, Bones, 2000</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.