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April 11, 2011 3:43 PM   Subscribe

/ / R | | P \ \ for the recently departed John McCracken (1934 – 2011), a West Coast artist who brought a New Age openness to Minimalist sculpture, along with a vocabulary of bright, sleek slabs, blocks and columns that balanced teasingly between painting and sculpture.

McCracken differed from the Minimalists — and from the Los Angeles “light and space” and “finish fetish” artists with whom his work was also affiliated — in his belief in U.F.O.s, extra-terrestrials and time-travel. In interviews that gave his work a distinct frame of reference, he frequently likened his art to something that an alien visitor might leave behind on earth.

McCracken was bedeviled by Stanley Kubrick's famously obscure science-fiction epic, "2001: A Space Odyssey," with its iconic image of an ancient monolith floating in outer space. The 1968 blockbuster was released two years after the artist made his first plank.

"At the time, some people thought I had designed the monolith or that it had been derived from my work," he told art critic Frances Colpitt of the coincidence in a 1998 interview.

[Post paraphrased from several linked obituaries: LA Times, NY Times]
posted by wcfields (5 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this; I never heard of him, and my brain likes his sculptures--even looking at pictures on the internetz, I have a tactile and taste sensations which other works of art don't generally provoke in me.
posted by not_on_display at 4:31 PM on April 11, 2011

I was in the middle of working on this post. His work, mostly about how a work can be both a sculpture and a painting, and literally transitions between floor and ground is profoundly revolutionary, plus his colours are out of this world.
posted by PinkMoose at 6:10 PM on April 11, 2011

also, of course, its a brillaint post.
posted by PinkMoose at 6:24 PM on April 11, 2011

Thanks for this - McCracken's 1967 "Black Plank" and Hiroshi Sugimoto's photo "North Pacific Ocean, Stinson Beach" were recently pared to great effect in the National Gallery of Art's "There is Nothing to See Here" show.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:28 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thank you to post this. His work was strikingly beautiful.
posted by bwonder2 at 1:59 PM on April 12, 2011

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