Watch Daniel Lefcourt on his exhibition Terraform at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, on view November 1 – December 22, 2018.
b. 1975, New York, NY
Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY
Daniel Lefcourt’s work, often minimal in appearance and nearly monochromatic, engages weighty conceptual questions and artistic concerns. His work scrutinizes and dismantles the process of painting through the material, the subject matter, and the physical space the work is shown. Using photographs of the trash in his studio, Lefcourt’s process-oriented and varied practice blurs the divide between abstraction and representation, often capturing the nuances of both.
Daniel Lefcourt was born in 1975 in New York and lives and works in Brooklyn. He received his MFA from Columbia University and is a member of the faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design. Recent solo exhibitions include Anti-Scans, Campoli Presti, London (2015); A Moveable Feast - Part VI, Campoli Presti, Paris (2014); Art Statements with Campoli Presti, Art Basel (2013); and Prepared Ground, Taxter & Spengemann, New York (2011). His work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions including First Among Equals at ICA Philadelphia (2012); Knight’s Move at Sculpture Center, New York (2010); Reel to Real: Photographs from the Traina Collection at the de Young Museum, San Francisco (2012); and Greater New York at MoMA P.S.1, New York (2000). His work is also part of prominent public collections such as The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
All images © Daniel Lefcourt.
“Well into the twenty-first century, artists use variations on the copy (as a strategy, process, or maneuver) to bestow ironic distance, nod in homage, or to furnish an indexical mark of reality. If the copy’s history in art begins, most basically, with the mimetic act—the imitation of nature by human hands—the primacy of realism has arguably since been superseded by the conceptual possibilities of the copy itself. The notion of the copy that springs most readily to mind may be that involving technologies of facsimile (optical, physical; by hand, by machine) but the copy also includes the knock-off, the remake, the reenactment, the meme. At stake in each of these practices—and in “Copied” as an exhibition—is an investigation of what is made or unmade through the act of copying, the ratio of signal to noise that results in the passage from original to offspring.”
Daniel Lefcourt: Mockup Opening reception Thursday, April 19, 6-8 PM "Mockup" is a storage room, a stage set, a mausoleum, a trade show, a diagram, a game board, a studio, a retail store, a pictograph, a classroom, a museum display, an architectural model, and a sign-maker's workshop. Like composite wood -- the material from which the artworks are made -- each object is at once real and solid, and simultaneously a mere semblance or substitute.
Lefcourt’s apparently ice-cold, algorithmically rendered paintings paradoxically unearth vital questions about formlessness and uncertainty. A plotter-guided line, dragged by machine across the surface of the canvas, extracted and extruded delicate tonal information about embedded mineral deposits—that is, paint stains. Like the vast landscapes of the Hudson River School, but with the human–God axis replaced by a material–digital one, these works probe the limit of any attempt to appropriate nature’s generative and entropic behavior.
If its attempts to transcend its own condition as colour spread on a plane occupy a large part in its history, painting is nevertheless still a physical area from which to address the surrounding world. While the majority of Westerners henceforth spend most of their time with their eyes glued to a luminous rectangle —hi there, who you are reading this text humbly printed on paper—, painting, in the words of Daniel Lefcourt, allows slow-looking, and have the ability to speak of perception, of touch. It would be, more than ever, topical.
In a way, a work of art is always a representation of something else, be it an object, image or idea. In Daniel Lefcourt’s premier exhibition with Mitchell-Innes & Nash, this seemingly intuitive theory becomes complicated by the artist’s employment of simulation techniques associated with theatrical and architectural models. A simulation, by definition, does not attempt to exist independently from or replace its source. Lefcourt’s fascinating use of modeling is not about the efficiency of representation, but is itself a simulation and tangible re-presentation of the very process of modeling, and the roles of the materials and rituals that are necessary to build a convincing visual approximation.
Lured and attuned to the simulative properties and potentials of a rather curious range of materials and mechanical processes, Lefcourt creates works—call them objects, call them items, call them paintings—that leave viewers questioning how much deeper or more detailed their envisioned origins might run, how much further their eventually depicted apertures might open, how many more machines and manual 'modelings' could be incorporated into the artist's procedures of representation and simulation.
For the fifteen mud-brown monochromes in this show, each titled "Debris Field," the young New York artist created low-relief molds based on photographs of detritus found in his studio (wood, dirt, etc.), filled them with acrylic paint, and attached the hardened results to canvas. The works are palimpsests of obliqueness--no matter how long you stare at the surfaces, you're unlikely to decode their sources (without reading the press release).
For his début show in 2004 Daniel Lefcourt exhibited a series of paintings of rocks: tar-black solitary boulders that were rendered on wheat-coloured canvas. Although the subject matter seems insipid, the paintings were anything but: visually lush, they reflected wittily on the nature of contemporary painting, the intersection of abstraction and representation, and the objectification and commodification of art.
A lot can happen in the gap between an artist's initial inspiration and a project's eventual outcome, and the objects in Daniel Lefcourt's recent show dwell precisely, if opaquely, in that space. In his recent exhibition at Taxter & Spengemann, Lefcourt presented an array of Minimal-ish constructions, most of them assemblages of narrow strips of wood mounted on the wall.
The works in Daniel Lefcourt's second solo show at this gallery somehow survive looking as if they could have been made in 1967. At first they seem to hail from a time when Frank Stella's shaped paintings, with their repeating bands of metallic color, had painters doing everything possible to avoid conventional paint on canvas and square corners.
Daniel Lefcourt is a non-painter's painter. He's an artist who happens to make paintings—although maybe this could be said of all painters. In the 1970s he might have been called a conceptual artist; in the 1980s, a commodities artist. He's part of a tradition of artists who aren't defined by painting but who use it as an occasional tool.