UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art

Gary Stephan
"Untitled", 1988
Acrylic on linen
Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art Collection
Gift of Steven Shane
In honor of mother, Sonia Shaenboen

Untitled is haunted by the unstated presence of the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840). Gary Stephan’s blue, white, and black palette suggests Friedrich’s crepuscular landscapes. The human figures who contemplate the scenery in Friedrich’s pictures are, however, absent. Stephan wanted to explore the mood of the German artist’s work without perpetuating the notion of a heroic human figure and decided to instead use abstract shapes, traced from cardboard templates, to hint at the role of a protagonist without fulfilling it. The undulation that runs diagonally across the sky-like background is one example of the templates he created. Solidly black it posits the existence of two worlds, one in which skies are possible, and another that exists two-dimensionally, as pure shape, affected by the pressure of the edges and corners that cut against it. The surreal atmosphere this creates is a frequent feature of his painting. (DKS)

  • Framed: 24 x 18 x 0.5 in
  • Created: 1988
  • Inventory Number: 2018.07.001
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