Gagosian Quarterly

Summer 2020 Issue

Shorter Than the Day

Sarah Sze writes on a recent collage.

Sarah Sze, Shorter Than the Day, 2019–20 © Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze, Shorter Than the Day, 2019–20 © Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze’s art utilizes genres as generative frameworks, uniting intricate networks of objects and images across multiple dimensions in sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking, and video installation. Her works prompt microscopic observation while evoking a macroscopic perspective on the infinite.

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When a studio becomes very active, you find works. They appear. This collage started as just a remnant lying around in the studio, but over time it stood out as a work in itself.

Its first use was as a tool to work out the concept for a huge permanent public artwork. The collage is about 2 1/2 feet long and 1 foot wide, made up of hundreds of individual, torn-up photographic images strewn across a sheet of paper; the finished sculpture will be spherical and at a scale of 50 by 25 feet.

I wanted to record the sky over New York during the span of an entire day, but what’s more important is that the photographs could have been taken anywhere in the world, or on any day—yesterday or in 200 bc. So the collage has an anytime, any-place timelessness to it, and yet it has an intimate quality. Somehow you sense that it is one specific day: one dawn, one dusk.

I needed it in fragments to create a gradient, where I could move the elements around like cards in a deck, or a palette. When you set up a traditional painter’s palette, you can then understand how to mix colors. It creates a way of making decisions, of understanding a color before you even start a painting. In the collage, I was using the torn fragments of photographs like strokes of color, in the way they appear in nature.

Shorter Than the Day

Sarah Sze, Shorter Than the Day, 2019–20 (detail) © Sarah Sze

The dark outer edges are dawn and dusk, and at the center—which represents noon—the sun is so strong that the image is blown out completely, a sort of perfect reflection of what a photograph is—just a way of recording light. Of course dawn and dusk are brief moments in the day, but they have a way of “burning into time” in a more significant way; if calculated rationally, they would be just tiny dots on the spectrum, a few minutes out of hundreds of minutes of daylight. Because the photographs were taken at evenly timed intervals, there are many, many more images than appear here. But I didn’t want a regular ticking recorder of what the sky looked like every single minute, but instead to play around with how time waxes and wanes: correspondingly, every image was printed at a different size.

The collage is like a wall calendar, a diary, or a deconstructed datebook; these forms embrace our compulsion to create little boxes of time to make sense of our lives passing. The collage is more intuitive than mathematical because it tries to measure what a day feels like, how it is perceived, how one day is remembered to the next—no matter how absurd, futile even, that effort is.

This visual timekeeper is idiosyncratic, fragile, and approximate; the fragments are of many different sizes; torn, not cut, uneven at the edges. It is not about finding a true perceptual frame or tool for reality, but more about how tenuous the effort to measure is, in and of itself. The collage in the studio is just a temporary grouping of elements; if you sneeze, it’s gone! So my effort to figure it out is present in all the odd formal decisions that involve irregularity, anomaly, randomness—all human qualities that computers don’t compute. It has the rhythm of life, where the space between things is never the same.

Text © Sarah Sze; edit: Louise Neri

Installation view, Pat Steir: Paintings, Gagosian, Rome, March 10–May 7, 2022. Photo: Matteo D’Eletto

Artist to Artist: Pat Steir and Sarah Sze

On the occasion of her exhibition of recent paintings, presented at Gagosian in Rome, Pat Steir met with fellow artist Sarah Sze for a wide-ranging discussion—from shared inspirations and influences to the role of chance, contingency, place, and time in painting.

Featuring Joan Jonas’s Mirror Piece 1 (1969) on its cover.

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2020

The Summer 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Joan Jonas’s Mirror Piece 1 (1969) on its cover.

Detail of Sarah Sze's multimedia installation Plein Air.

Sarah Sze: Anything Times Zero Is Zero

Hear Sarah Sze speak about her most recent work, including the panel painting Picture Perfect (Times Zero) and the multimedia installation Plein Air (Times Zero) (both 2020). Discussing the relationship between painting and sculpture in her practice, she explains how she creates structure and its inverse, instability, in her layering of images, putting the viewer in the position of active discovery.

Still from La Jetée (1962), directed by Chris Marker.

Five Films: Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze writes about five films that live as richly evocative images in her visual memory.

Sarah Sze, Dews Drew (Half-life), 2018.

Sarah Sze: Infinite Generation

Louise Neri talks with Sarah Sze about the new primacy of the image in her explorations between and across mediums. They spoke on the occasion of an exhibition of Sze’s work at Gagosian, Rome, comprising collaged panel paintings, a large-scale video installation, and an outdoor sculpture fashioned from a natural boulder.

Video still of Sarah Sze speaking at a TED conference, Vancouver, BC, April 2019.

Sarah Sze: Art That Explores Time and Memory

Join Sarah Sze as she talks about the questions that drive her work. She describes creating immersive experiences that blur the lines between time, memory, and space—and between art and life.

Frieze Sculpture New York: An Interview with Brett Littman

Frieze Sculpture New York: An Interview with Brett Littman

The inaugural presentation of Frieze Sculpture New York at Rockefeller Center opened on April 25, 2019. Before the opening, Brett Littman, the director of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum and the curator of this exhibition, told Wyatt Allgeier about his vision for the project and detailed the artworks included.

Sarah Sze: In the Studio

Work in Progress
Sarah Sze: In the Studio

Join Sarah Sze in her studio as she prepares for an exhibition of new work in Rome.

Screen Time: How Nadya Tolokonnikova and UnicornDAO are Warming the Web3 World

Screen Time: How Nadya Tolokonnikova and UnicornDAO are Warming the Web3 World

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Image of Gio Swaby, Love Letter 2, 2018, thread and fabric sewn on canvas

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For Roxane Gay’s guest-edited section in the Winter 2022 Gagosian Quarterly, “Black to Black,” Brooke C. Obie addresses the mixed-media work of Gio Swaby, exploring the ways that Black joy, ancestry, and her home country inform her developing practice.

Anna Weyant in her studio, New York, 2022

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Novelist Emma Cline traces the boundaries between terror and hilarity in Anna Weyant’s new paintings.

Jim Shaw, The Master Mason (2020) is a large acrylic work painted on a section of found muslin backdrop. Donald Trump is dressed as a founding father—namely George Washington—complete with tricorne hat and Masonic ritual apron, an emblem of innocence, righteousness, and proper conduct.

“The Present Decline”: Jim Shaw’s Epic Parables

Catherine Taft examines Jim Shaw’s visionary work, which probes the American psyche through political, historical, and cultural allegory.