Essay

Richard Artschwager, Horizon

By Marin Sarvé-Tarr, May 2019

Richard Artschwager, Horizon, 1990; etching, aquatint, lift-ground etching, spit-bite etching, and drypoint, 36 x 46 1/2 in. (91.4 x 118.1 cm); The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, © The Estate of Richard Artschwager / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Horizon is part of a group of three rare etchings Artschwager made in 1990 and published with Marian Goodman Gallery’s Multiples Inc. Based on press photos and one of the artist’s own drawings, these works challenge perception by shifting between real and imagined spaces.

The etchings are at once intimately connected and markedly different in their imagery and inspiration. The two other prints in the group, Building Riddled with Listening Devices (Alpha) and Building Riddled with Listening Devices (Beta), are drawn from a New York Times photograph of the unfinished United States embassy in Moscow five years after the infamous revelation that Soviet contractors had bugged the structure. Horizon departs from this source and subject to depict an eponymous charcoal drawing the artist made in 1989. Here, on either side of a gallery-like room, abstracted desert views with thick frames appear either as windows or as pictures that echo Artschwager’s experimental landscapes of his childhood home in New Mexico. Despite the jump from a real edifice to an imagined interior, visual cues connect Horizon to the other prints. While the original charcoal drawing has areas of exposed creamy paper that brighten the composition, the coarse, grainy background and softened, hazy contrast of the etching mimic the grisaille tone of the rest of the series. The delicate shading of the molding accents the depth of the room and mirrors the sharp linear perspective of the other two works, while the grid of rings on the floor recalls their loopy, textured backgrounds. Together, the viewpoint and origins shift across the three etchings to create an amalgam of drawing, photography, and printmaking.

 

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Cite as: Marin Sarvé-Tarr, “Richard Artschwager, Horizon,” May 2019.


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, https://www.sfmoma.org/essay/richard-artschwager-horizon/

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Marin Sarvé-Tarr

Marin Sarvé-Tarr

Marin Sarvé-Tarr is Fisher Collection Curatorial Fellow at SFMOMA.
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