The Whitney Museum of American Art presents Wade Guyton OS, the first midcareer survey of the New York–based artist. The exhibition features highlights of Guyton’s career from 1999 to the present, showcasing his work in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and installation. Guyton also premieres two new paintings, one of which spans fifty feet in length and is the artist’s largest single canvas to date.
Comprising more than eighty works, the show features a non-chronological layout in which staggered rows of parallel walls confront the viewer like the layered pages of a book or stacked windows on a computer screen, twin references to Guyton’s sources and process.
Wade Guyton was born in 1972 in Hammond, Indiana, and now lives and works in New York. Over the past decade he has emerged as one of the most innovative artists of a generation that also includes Rachel Harrison, Kelley Walker, Josh Smith, and Roe Etheridge. During that time, Guyton pioneered a body of work that builds on key developments in the history of modern and contemporary art through the use of common technologies, such as the desktop computer, scanner, and printer.
Guyton first gained prominence in the mid-2000s with a group of drawings made by passing pages torn primarily from old art and architecture books through his Epson inkjet printer and marking them with letters and geometric shapes rendered simply in Microsoft Word. In these works, colored bars and disks, muscular Us and Xs, and, eventually, scanned graphics, piled atop images of timber-frame houses, onstructivist sculptures, Persian rugs, and modish interiors through an activity that implies both vandalism and homage. Within each sheet, Guyton suggests his intimacy with and distance from his subjects, as well as the recalcitrance and creeping obsolescence of the printed book in the digital era. At
the same time, Guyton questions how an age-old medium such as drawing might itself be redefined intuitively through new means.
Since 2005, Guyton has developed a unique approach to painting by running sheets of primed linen through a large-format inkjet printer to yield a variety of motifs from off-kilter abstractions to fiery emblems. Because the fabric is thicker than the printer’s intended support, it often gets stuck in the machine or causes clogs of ink that result in drips, smears, and striations. Similarly, Guyton’s enlargement or mis-formatting of a digital source file can cause the image to blur or break down as it wends its way from the computer to the printer. He often tugs at the linen or overprints his mistakes; these accidents become a source of painterly interest and a subject of Guyton’s art, poignantly connecting it to our daily lives, now punctuated by jammed copiers and misprinted cellphone photos.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue published in cooperation with Yale University Press.
Whitney Museum of American Art Website