Marvelli Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Craigie Horsfield, February 4th through March 22nd, 2012. The exhibition, Horsfield's first in New York since 1996 at Barbara Gladstone Gallery, includes monumental black and white tapestries from his Circus series and a survey of photographs in production between 1973 and 2010. Art historian and critic Carol Armstrong writes on Horsfield's use of tapestry and large-scale portraiture in the following essay, Craigie Horsfield: Modern Magnificence:
Photo-tapestry? Isn't that an oxymoron? And in this day and age? I always thought-probably most people think-that tapestry was a Renaissance art form. And depicting a Russian circus in Barcelona with teetering elephants and a caged tiger in black and white? There is something strange about the conjunction of 'photograph,' 'tapestry,' 'today' and 'circus.' Well, yes, strange, but also wonderful, and completely magnificent. Craigie Horsfield is an artist who has decided that we deserve magnificence in our time, and that we can bring the past forward into the present, and sit in wonderment before it, like grown-up children at a magic-show, or for that matter, a circus. And then go away and come back and talk about it, and keep talking about it into the future. Among the things we can talk about as we go away and come back to it are the contradictions involved in it. At the same time we can, as the sensuous and subjective animals that we are, revel in the sensory experience of it, and in the flights it allows our imaginations. For we are stranger beasts than elephants or tigers, in all our peculiar curiosity about other beings, with the combination of cruelty and kindness, detachment and empathy, sensation, emotion and mental abstraction, that that curiosity involves.
The art of tapestry gives the art of the photo-graph a richness and tactile warmth that it often otherwise lacks. By means of art it brings the "realism" of the photograph home to our senses, and makes the "everyday," not banal, but splendid. We are heir to two decades of large art photographs made to rival paintings in size and imaginative scope, and as such fit to enter into world-class museums, galleries and ambitious collections. Names like Thomas Struth and Jeff Wall are widely known in this regard. But though less well-known to American audiences, the English artist Craigie Horsfield was already making large-scale photographic pictures in the 'eighties, first in black-and-white, and now more recently in color, in places like Poland and London, and then Barcelona and Madrid, the Canary Islands, Naples and Belgium. And he has been among the very first to explore the new technical possibilities offered by the large inkjet print.
There are other things in this exhibition besides the two large-scale photo-tapestries in the front room: colored inket prints of human faces and still lifes that beautifully evoke the other times and places we continue to be curious about, in the long here and now. But together the two photo-tapestries form the centerpiece of the show, and suggest that it is we the people, and not just kings and popes of the past, who deserve this modern magnificence. And in fact, there is a perfectly modern pedigree for these tapestries. Indeed, the first computers arose, around the same time as the photograph, out of the jacquard loom with its punch-cards: Horsfield has brought the double strands of the (scanned) analogue photograph and digital media back together in the modern, computer-driven jacquard loom that wove these photo-tapestries in Belgium, the home of fine tapestry-making since the Northern Renaissance. Moreover, in addition to evoking the magic of Georges Seurat's modern nocturnal entertainments, these tapestries might also serve to remind us that the system of color mixture that drives the contemporary inkjet printer depends on much the same color theory, invented by the director of the Gobelins Tapestry Works in 19th-century Paris, that inspired Seurat - it is not entirely by coincidence that Seurat's large pointillist paintings were often compared to tapestries. In short, these are thoroughly modern works of art, made for us, today. Yet they are unique; there is nothing else like them being made out there today
CRAIGIE HORSFIELD lives and works in London. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Documenta Kassel (1997 and 2002), Centre Georges Pompidou, and the Ydessa Hendeles Foundation, and his works are in the collections of the Whitney Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the Tate Modern in London, among other museums and institutions. The artist will exhibit at the SFMOMA, the 18th Biennale of Syndey this summer, and the National Gallery in London in the fall. Two major catalogues have been published on the artist: Craigie Horsfield: Relation (2007) and Craigie Horsfield: Confluence and Consequence (2011). This is the artist's first exhibition at Marvelli Gallery.