Close-Ups

07.15.13

Why Bigger Is Better

The Daily Pic: Robert Therrien enlarges things, so we can know them better.

Robert Therrien makes oversized domestic objects. Claes Oldenburg has always made oversized domestic objects. And in my Therrien piece in yesterday's New York Times, on the occasion of a mini-survey at the Albright-Knox in Buffalo, I show how these two artists have little in common. (It's pure, weird coincidence that the Times had me profile both of them this summer.)  Oldenburg's enlargements are about amplification, taking pop culture and making it goofily present to us, as though we can't avoid bathing in it. Therrien's magnifications are about close observation. They are a sober attempt to give us access to every detail in objects that matter in our everyday lives. Oldenburg's sculptures start life as stylish and stylized drawings, full of clownish energy, and the finished pieces never come close to trompe-l'oeil; Therrien's objects have their roots in photographs that document things that he cares about, and are realized with worshipful accuracy.

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