Spencer Finch: Galerie Nordenhake

By Jones, Ronald | Artforum International, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Spencer Finch: Galerie Nordenhake


Jones, Ronald, Artforum International


Emily Dickinson sought the sacred in nature rather than in church. In one buoyant but sacrilegious poem, she "detourned" the Trinitarian blessing, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," making it: "In the name of the bee / And of the butterfly / And of the breeze, amen!" American artist Spencer Finch shares this spiritual reverence for nature, endlessly attempting to capture those ethereal moments in which nature overawes. Embracing paradox, his titles grasp at literal descriptions of ineffable natural experiences. He describes The Moment When Three Dimensions Become Two Dimensions (Apple Tree, 3 July, 2010, 9:38 p.m.) as "a photographic document of the precise moment at twilight when the eye can no longer discern depth in the landscape." Finch's words, like the poet's, are only shadowy approximations of experience; the same could be said for this nocturnal photograph of a tree. The photograph captures the twinkling instant when the color of the massive tree is so close to that of the darkening and expansive sky that they seem to disappear into each other. Rather than faithfully evoke experience, words and images are more likely to trigger perceptual memories whose authenticity to the original experience is everlastingly elusive. In Cloud Study (Giverny) 0484 and 0684, both 2012, in which cloud images formed from Scotch tape display the essence of the clouds themselves, the original experience of the clouds remains just out of reach for Finch, as for Monet before him. Whether focusing on twilight's mysterious ambiguities or entrancing diaphanous clouds, exploring these dissonances between experience and representation leaves one at a permanent loss for the experience itself; in this way, Finch's work is equally poignant, tender, and innocent. …

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