Printing Error: Paper Jam at Source

Installation view of Wade Guyton OS (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 4, 2012 – January 13, 2013). Photograph by Ron Amstutz

Wade Guyton OS at the Whitney was a huge disappointment, but not for the reasons you think.  I went to see the show today with a friend and former colleague whom I first met when I arrived on the shores of this intense city looking for a job in the art world, and my partner, who I usually can drag along if it only takes a couple of hours.

My first job here was working for a notorious art moving and installation company, and one of the people with whom I worked was Kelley Walker. As people may know, Kelley and Wade are partners in crime, and it was one of those situations where some people rise to the top, and some people move on.

I’ve been skeptical of the reasons for their success, and have only paid rather cursory attention to the work. I was determined to find great fault in it, and with my analytical mind, rationalize why it is that they have garnered such acclaim.

I was sadly disappointed to find that I really loved it. There is great simplicity in the concept. And yet there are many art historical references and layers of meaning. I hate that. I usually attribute these things as being incredibly incestuous and perhaps suggests a self indulgent art world. It is at once minimalist, installation, architectural. It is, in many ways stark and inaccessible. It is clearly executed using technology, and yet it also shows the very other-worldly nuance that abstract expressionism, minimalism, and modernist art were responding to when those movements took hold. The work is imperfect, and glorifies it.

Installation view of Wade Guyton OS (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 4, 2012 – January 13, 2013). Photograph by Ron Amstutz

There is a perspective one must take in order to truly appreciate the show. You must love contemporary architecture, and by that I mean modern, glass and steel, architecture. There are no embellishments or ornamentation. I’d imagine there are many, many pieces executed that simply are not successful.

One must understand art as having been put thru its paces, and in need of meaning beyond representation, perspective, color, and form. One reason the art of Wade Guyton is successful is due, in a large part, to its scale. The work is big, and is not something the average collector has room for. Many of the pieces are multi-paneled, and I don’t think just one panel is as persuasive.

I do question the work whether there is anything more to offer that the gesture of manipulating technology on a very basic level.  And wonder whether it is more decoration, ultimately, than meaning. Most of the work is Untitled.  So would one say, Oh, my favorite is Untitled 2010? That one is so much more successful than Untitled 2010?

There is an installation which I think is hilarious. The one which includes the multi-paneled Xs and the Enron chairs which were acquired online. Bright colors, soiled upholstery, it at once embraces and holds up a middle finger to large corporate success. Brilliant.

1 Comment

    Paper jams, leaking toner cartridges, formatting errors—there are few who haven’t been frustrated by the glitches and hiccups common to printers. But artist Wade Guyton depends upon these errors in the process of his art making. The “paintings” displayed in his mid-career survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York draw on his use of inkjet printing to create large-scale works on linen, as well as small-scale works on found magazine and book pages.

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