The Unfolding is an exhibition of new still life paintings by Claudia Hart. Widely exhibited internationally and online, this is Hart’s first solo presentation of paintings in Chicago. The artist calls these works “digital combines.” They are an assessment of our current moment, asserting a new version of authenticity: painting for the age of the computer.
In what has been called “flirtatious simulation of forgery,” Hart uses computer modeling to render copy-right protected works by Modernist patriarchs—Picasso, Matisse, and Morandi—in a parallel symbolic space. Meticulously composed by hand using custom software, and re-interpreted with her own attention to color, light, and surface, we understand these works as dreamlike and disembodied, intermingling the physical world with an imaginary VR game space.
Each unique work is generated from a Jpeg, created with a computer-driven airbrush machine, and using archival pigments on rare hardwood panels. As appropriations themselves, the works in The Unfolding toy with the issues of copyright that date their origins to the Modernist response to photography. Hart therefore calls these pieces “combines,” following the lead of Robert Rauschenberg. But while Rauschenberg combined painting with a physical sculpture, Hart combines hers with a digital simulation, minted as an NFT with blockchain certification.
Moving through pleasure and recognition, our negotiations of Hart’s paintings—both in the white cube and on screen—make way for heady meditations on for the passage of time, notions of authorship and authenticity, identity, and canon.
Finally, this work is presented alongside an earlier work from Hart’s practice, Medusa, 2011. This wood drawing, based on a 3D sculpture from her Mortifications series also a combine, representing the artist’s ongoing interest in identity and representation through the evolving “scrim” of technology, all through the lenses of feminism, art history, and queer theory.
Based in New York and professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Claudia Hart emerged as part of a generation of 90s intermedia artists examining issues of identity and representation. Since the late 90s when she began working with 3D animation, Hart embraced these same concepts, but now focusing on the impact of computing and simulations technologies. She was an early adopter of virtual imaging, using 3D animation to make media installations and projections, and later as they were invented, other forms of VR, AR and objects produced by computer-driven production machines. At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she is a Professor, she developed a pedagogic program based on her practice - Experimental 3D - the first dedicated solely to teaching simulations technologies in an art-school context.
Hart’s works are widely exhibited and collected by galleries and museums including the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum. Her intellectual contributions have been formative in the growing discourse of NFT-based digital art, and her work has been included in preeminent curated exhibitions at the forefront of this genre.
She is represented in the US by bitforms gallery and is married to the media artist Kurt Hentschlager.