RISD Museum presents Spencer Finch: Painting Air
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
February 24–July 29, 2012
224 Benefit Street
Providence, RI 02903
Spencer Finch combines science with poetic observation to bring new awareness to both the natural and built world in which we live. For this two-part show, Finch creates new work and also curates a selection of works from the Museum’s collection—including the Impressionist painting The Basin at Argenteuil, 1874, by Claude Monet. As a student, Finch (RISD MFA ’89, Sculpture) was so influenced by the painting that he credits his study of it as a turning point in his artistic trajectory. His placement of objects from the Museum’s collection reveals aesthetic influence between artists, unexpected connections among disparate works, and his personal sensibility.
The work of Impressionist painter Claude Monet serves as the aesthetic touchstone for both parts of the exhibition, and even informed its title. Painting Air comes from a statement Monet made in 1895: “I want to paint the air… and that is nothing short of impossible.” Finch’s new installation, Painting Air (2012), created for the exhibition, seeks to capture the movement and reflection the artist observed in a recent visit to Monet’s water garden in Giverny. For both Finch and Monet, the pond at Giverny served as a laboratory in which they merge the experience of nature with the art-making process. Finch evokes his experience by suspending over 100 transparent and highly reflective glass panels in the middle of an expansive, 150-linear-foot mural comprised of 35 colors. Light and color shift across the surfaces of the gently swaying panels, reflecting the painting and the movements of visitors, and transforming viewers’ perspectives from one moment to the next.
Mar 1 | Thu 6:30 pm | Metcalf Auditorium, Chace Center
Artist Spencer Finch, writer and photographer Michael Benson, along with marine biologist, Dr. Christopher Deacutis, discuss color systems, speculations, and deceptions.
Double Take: The Basin at Argenteuil
Mar 11 | Sun 2 pm | Chace Center Galleries
RISD Adjunct Faculty in Painting Bill Miller and Bill Warren, Brown University Chancellor’s Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences consider Monet’s landscape painting in terms of color, light, and perception.
In Good Company
Apr 5 | Thu 6:30 pm | Metcalf Auditorium, Chace Center
Spencer Finch examines artistic influences and the persistent drive to give form to the intangible.
Support for programs is provided by RISD’s Sculpture Department; Brown University’s Center for Vision Research; and the National Science Foundation, RI Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research at RISD, RISD’s Division of Graduate Studies and Brown University’s Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies.
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design