Magazine article Artforum International

Mary Lum: Yancey Richardson

Magazine article Artforum International

Mary Lum: Yancey Richardson

Article excerpt

Mary Lum


The sixteen works created by Mary Lum for her latest exhibition are part collage, part (often the larger part) painting. Angular blocks of flatly applied acrylic surround photographs and strips cut from comic books that portray fragments of the urban environment: anonymous intersections and a ribbon of paint-spattered wall, precariously tilted buildings and a concrete staircase turned dizzyingly on its head. The artist's preferred haunts--New York, Paris, and London (Detroit also makes a brief appearance)--are identified only by the works' titles, for Lum rigorously avoids recognizable metropolitan landmarks in favor of vigilant attention to unremarkable urban corners.

This focus on the everyday facts of lived experience in the city might suggest an allegiance to the Situationist practice of the derive, as might the title of one of the collages, Belleville (all works 2014), which places us in Paris's most politically radical neighborhood. But the collage itself, like the rest of the work that was on display, seems geared less toward urban critique than the discovery of chance color combinations. The photograph in the work's upper right documents the junction of a pink and-red doorframe, a pale-pink strip of worn linoleum at the threshold, and the patterned ruby carpet glimpsed in the interior, an aleatory grouping that sets the color key for the vertical and diagonal stripes of paint that dominate the image.


In Villa La Roche, the chromatic scale is determined by an altogether more elevated architectural fragment: a corner of the famed Parisian residence designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in the 1920s to house its owner's collection of Cubist pictures. But here too it is random juxtapositions rather than the architect's meticulously planned order that catch Lum's eye. The rectilinear structure of the monochrome building, seen in a sharply foreshortened and off-kilter photographic detail, serves as the basis for a series of interlocking gray, beige, and off-white painted planes whose raking angles playfully unsettle the villa's balanced restraint. The collage also recalls the color "keyboards" Le Corbusier created in 1931 for the Salubra paint company, but again so as to disturb the master's equilibrium. …

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