10 April, 2011

10 April - In Memory of John McCracken

LAUNCHPROJECTS - John McCracken, a West Coast artist based in Santa Fe, New Mexico known for bright, lustrous, minimal sculptures died on Friday in New York. He was 76.

I do not remember the first time I experienced John McCracken’s sculptures. It was most likely at James Kelly Contemporary in Santa Fe. I can not recall the specific colors of the works or how they were placed within the space. I do know that they haunted me for days following the show. In that rare and remarkable way that precious few works of art function, his sculpture shifted the way that I experienced anything that was even peripherally visually related. Whether it was a sumptuously painted lowrider in Northern New Mexico or a Donald Judd sculpture at Pace Gallery in New York, McCracken's sculptures changed the way I observed the world.

McCracken once stated that his “tendency is to reduce or develop everything to 'single things' — things which refer to nothing outside [themselves] but which at the same time possibly refer, or relate, to everything." His work was a whisper in a cacophony of voices, and the simplicity and elegance of that intention leaves an enduring and singular impact.

Artdaily.org described his sketchbooks which shed significant light on “both personal and speculative observations about the function of art. Ranging from one-word statements to several pages of commentary, his notes were frequently inspired by ancient history and paranormal meditations. These facilitate a parallel understanding of his works, as evidenced in a passage from 1966 on the reflective, even surfaces of his sculptures: “if the viewer is in motion, the sculptures become in a sense kinetic, changing more radically than one might expect. At times, certain sculptures seem to almost disappear and become illusions, so rather than describing these things as objects, it might be better to describe them as complexes of energies.”

McCracken's work gave the art world elegant, minimal, infinite objects of art. In the words of a mutual Santa Fe friend, Not only was he a great and unique artist, but he was a thoughtful, kind and subtle soul.”