Marian Goodman opens its fall exhibition calendar in New York this month with a selection of works by artist Tacita Dean, centered around a set of new works made in association with ‘The Dante Project,” commissioned by The Royal Opera House in London to create new designs for The Royal Ballet, which will premiere in October 2021. Centered on Dante’s Divine Comedy, with new music by Thomas Adès and choreography by Wayne McGregor, the ballet is structured in three parts: Inferno; Purgatorio; and Paradiso. Dean represents these three realms of Dante’s journey in an adventure through various mediums and means of representation, with works that move from drawing to photography and film; from negative to positive, representation to abstraction, and monochrome to color.
Traveling through the varied states and iconographies outlined in The Divine Comedy, Dean’s work here moves across media in a manner that seems to parallel the sights and scenes of Dante’s literary masterpiece. In a series of works capturing photographs of jacaranda trees in Los Angeles, Dean traces their surface in colored pencil. Purgatory, the middle state, is depicted here as a transitional state between negative and positive, a concept developed in the five striking large photographs on view, each scaled in proportion to their original subject. Beginning with large negatives of each tree, Dean created internegatives in order to reverse each into a photographic print, with violet blooms transforming into an otherworldly green. This strange intermediary state is accentuated by the artist’s meticulous hand-coloring in around the trees.
In the South Gallery, the artist presents two new 16mm films, continuing her tradition of artists’ portraits using the medium of film. Luchita Hurtado and Julie Mehretu, who in 2020 would have shared a birthday exactly five decades apart, are shown here in dialogue in a moving double-portrait, each artist musing on their work, nature, and the world around them. The show continues through a series of screen-prints and slate drawings, both reveling in a particular fascination with both utopian concepts and material experiments. Throughout, this is a dominant thread, revealing Dean’s interest in the capacity for expression through one’s surroundings.
The show closes October 23rd.
– D. Creahan
Tacita Dean [Exhibition Site]