The Brooklyn Rail

MARCH 2022

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MARCH 2022 Issue
The Miraculous The Miraculous: New York

94. West 53rd Street

A 23-year-old Brazilian artist makes his first trip to New York. During a visit to the Museum of Modern Art he falls into a conversation with a woman about the paintings of Jackson Pollock. So inspiring is this conversation, and his discovery of Pollock’s art, that two months later he moves from São Paulo to New York. Within a few years he has launched a successful career by using unusual materials to make drawings based on black-and-white photographs. For instance, he uses sugar to render photos he has taken of the children and grandchildren of workers on a Caribbean sugar plantation. Sometimes his subjects are famous works of art, as when he uses dirt to make a copy of Courbet’s Origin of the World. He preserves his fragile, ephemeral drawings through photographs. There’s a neat conceptual circularity in the way that his works begin and end as photographs. Among his best-known works is a drawing based on one of Hans Namuth’s photographs of Jackson Pollock making a drip painting. To render Namuth’s image he uses chocolate syrup. Impressively he uses the dark glistening liquid not only to render Pollock’s dense tangles of dripped paint but also to depict the painter himself, balancing on one foot as he unleashes a skein of paint. Another kind of circularity is achieved when MoMA exhibits a print of his chocolate-syrup Pollock.

(Vik Muniz)

Contributor

Raphael Rubinstein

Raphael Rubinstein is the author of The Miraculous (Paper Monument, 2014) and A Geniza (Granary Books, 2015). He is currently writing a book about the Jewish-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès. A Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art, he divides his time between Houston and New York.

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The Brooklyn Rail

MARCH 2022

All Issues