Born in Fort Sill, OK, 1971; died in New York, 2007
In considering whether there might be art from SFMOMA's collection that would be well suited for inclusion in Project Los Altos, Jeremy Blake's Winchester trilogy came to mind right away. Not only is it one of the most visually alluring animations in our holdings, but it was inspired by the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose — a South Bay icon we figured everyone who lives or works in Silicon Valley would know, whether they had visited it themselves or just seen it advertised on billboards.
The eccentric Victorian home was built by Sarah Winchester, heiress to her husband's rifle-manufacturing fortune. In the late nineteenth century, Mrs. Winchester also owned the first hundred acres that would become the town of Los Altos. She built the Winchester Mansion, as it was then known, between the years 1884 and 1922. This long period of compulsive and often nonsensical construction was undertaken to confuse or ward off ghosts.
Blake was fascinated by Mrs. Winchester and the "fearful chambers of her mind." In order to create this fluid, non-narrative video trilogy, the artist, who trained as a painter, digitally synthesized and manipulated source material ranging from newly shot film footage to vintage advertisements and photographs. The first work, Winchester (2002), offers what might be called a psychological tour of the fears and beliefs that drove the home's growth. 1906 (2003), named for the year of the Bay Area's great earthquake, explores the construction and architecture of the mansion. Century 21 (2004), the trilogy's final installment, references nearby movie theaters with glimpses of actors and artists whom Blake saw as embodiments of the Wild West.
Curator of Painting and Sculpture
Jeremy Blake on creating a "waking dream"
Project Los Altos: SFMOMA in Silicon Valley is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in collaboration with the City of Los Altos. The lead sponsor of this exhibition is Passerelle Investment Company.
Major support is provided by SFMOMA's Collectors Forum. Generous support is provided by the Bay Area Contemporary Arts Exhibition Fund, founded by Agnes Cowles Bourne; and Brit and Dave Morin. Jim Breyer, Randi and Bob Fisher, Patricia W. Fitzpatrick, Adriane Iann and Christian Stolz, Nion T. McEvoy, and Thomas W. Weisel and Janet Barnes are sponsors of the exhibition. Additional support is provided by the Graue Family Foundation, Alka and Ravin Agrawal, The Black Dog Private Foundation, Phyllis and Bill Draper, Concepción and Irwin Federman, Marissa Mayer and Zachary Bogue, Christopher and Michele Meany, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, and the Los Altos Community Foundation.