Magazine article Artforum International

Marc Baseman; Harwood Art Museum

Magazine article Artforum International

Marc Baseman; Harwood Art Museum

Article excerpt

This exhibition of Marc Baseman's graphite-and-powdered pigment miniatures brought together eighteen works made between 2000 and 2003 as well as a vitrine-filling assortment of slightly larger graphite drawings and woodcut prints from 1996. The artist's kaleidoscopic worlds--which measure two and seven-eighths inches by two and one-fourth inches--are part Dick Tracy and part Piranesi, as seen through a Pee Wee's Playhouse microscope.

Baseman's compositions always contain a central building, bird, or insect, which anchors the picture and causes the eye to make the circuit of its crowded periphery. In Convent Street Observatory, 2003, a pair of stout building facades are flanked by a swan swimming left and a truck traveling right as a penguin's head pops up in the lee of a bridge. Mirrors and doubling are also essential: Baseman often edges the top or bottom of a drawing with a frieze of windows, in a Joseph Cornell-like strategy by which compartmentalization allows for serial but discrete narrations inside a frame. Sometimes the tiny panes are empty, but occasionally we get a Rear Window glimpse of head or neck and project onto the scene whatever sly meaning comes to mind.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A sense of surveillance recurs frequently via the reiterated towers and windows, but Baseman can hint at seamy themes without landing in pulp fiction. …

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