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Blow up 1

Sadie Benning (American, born 1973). Blow up 1, 2017. Aqua-Resin, casein, and acrylic on Medite, 80 x 55 inches (203.2 x 139.7 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Albert H. Tracy Fund, by exchange, 2018 (2018:1). © Sadie Benning and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

Recent Acquisition Spotlight: Sadie Benning’s Blow up 1

January 29, 2020

At first glance, it can be tricky to figure out what Sadie Benning’s Blow up 1 is made of. “People often look at the surface of my work and have trouble knowing what exactly it is,” Benning has recounted. “Is it leather, is it ceramic? Is it a sculpture or a drawing or a painting?” The artist delights in these kinds of questions and sees this ambiguity as a key part of the artwork.

Detail from Sadie Benning's Blow up 1, 2017. Aqua-Resin, casein, and acrylic on Medite, 80 x 55 inches (203.2 x 139.7 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Albert H. Tracy Fund, by exchange, 2018 (2018:1). © Sadie Benning and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

In fact, Blow up 1 started as a wholly non-material, digital image. For this and related abstractions, Benning begins by zooming in and out on a touchscreen image until arriving at a detail that makes sense as a stand-alone composition. Based on this selection, the artist then cuts corresponding forms from particle board, covers these with brightly hued resins, and finally fits the pieces back together, almost like a puzzle.

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