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Tony Conrad

American, born 1940

Courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali, New York

Yellow Movie 2/23–24/73, 1973

Emulsion: sterling gray low lustre enamel (water base), thick textured; base: dusty rose seamless paper
92 x 107 inches (233.7 x 271.8 cm)
Charles Clifton Fund, by exchange, 2012

Tony Conrad has been a cult figure of near mythological status in experimental film, video, sound, installation, and performance art since the 1960s. Conrad came to Buffalo in 1976 at the invitation of fellow artist Woody Vasulka (Icelandic, born 1937) to teach video at the University at Buffalo’s Center for Media Study and never left. The artist experiments at the intersection of filmic processes and painting—which were part of the broader 1970s postmodern trend toward the cross-pollination of media—resulting in works like Yellow Movie 2/23–24/73, 1973. This work hails from a series Conrad made with house paint; in the series, blocks of color framed by black borders yellow over time through a destabilizing process that mimics photographic development or the changing frames of a film. The series was inspired by a revelation Conrad had while staring at the yellowing paint on the ceiling above his bed. The artist’s ruminations about the process the paint was undergoing led him to think about notions of temporality, and ultimately yielded this large-scale gestural work, which is undergoing its own painfully slow evolution.