Betty Woodman's "Balustrade Relief Vases," 1990s: "Betty Woodman: Conversations on the Shore, Works from the 1990s," David Kordansky Gallery, New York, October 29-December 17, 2022

L to R: All artworks by Betty Woodman. “Balustrade Relief Vase 6-94,” 1994. 62 x 47 x 9 in / “Balustrade Relief Vase 97-01,” 1997. 72 x 53 x 8 3/4 in / “Balustrade Relief Vase 96-11,” 1996. 68 1/2 x 74 x 9 in / “Balustrade Relief Vase 96-2,” 1996. 68 x 73 x 10 in / “Balustrade Relief Vase 03-3,” 2003. 48 x 110 x 9 1/2 in / Installation view, "Betty Woodman,” Museo Marino Marini, Florence, Italy, 2015 / “Of Botticelli,” 2013. 10 1/2 ft x 32 ft x 3/4 in / “Wallpaper 16,” 2017. 112 x 209 x 1 in / "Wallpaper 19,” 2017. 65 x 59 in / “Outside and In,” 2017. 75 1/2 x 120 x 10 1/2 in. Images 1-9: All artworks glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer, and paint / Image 10: Glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer, paint, canvas, and wood. Images 1-4: Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery. Photography: Phoebe d’Heurle.

NOW ON VIEW “Betty Woodman: Conversations on the Shore, Works from the 1990s” at David Kordansky Gallery, New York through December 17th.

The Balustrade Relief Vases, which Betty Woodman began making in the 1990s, were a turning point in her work, in which she fully embraced the space and concerns of painting, through sculptural materials. Each of these wall-based works includes a flat-fronted vase placed on a ceramic shelf and surrounded by an arrangement of ceramic fragments which evoke other vessels, plants, and architectural details out of a dialogue between positive and negative space and painted and sculptural form. “A marriage of painting and sculpture,” she wrote. “The flat forms are always more than themselves, the spaces around them are equally important. The actual three dimensional relief elements of the shelf and vase complicate the reading. Real space and pictorial space are interwoven."

Over the next two decades, Woodman continued expanding upon the ideas and forms which she had honed so skillfully in these works from the 1990s. Her ceramic fragments began to take over larger expanses of the wall in friezes that implied figures in the landscape, as in “Of Botticelli.” At times she dispensed with the three-dimensional vase all together, covering walls like a fresco in ceramic relief in her “Wallpaper” pieces, which were actually composed from the leftover off-cuts of the façades on her vessels, the negative spaces turned positive. In her last works, the ceramic fragments she began with in her Balustrades began to spill off of the canvas support of her paintings—out of pictorial space and into real space.

For more information on Betty Woodman’s solo exhibition at David Kordansky Gallery, New York, click here.

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