Similar but Different #23: “Pure” White

by Margaret Meehan September 23, 2011

While researching for work I’m currently making in the studio I’ve become obsessed with white and its false reputation of purity. Here are just a few token examples of white lifting it’s dust ruffle to show us a little dirt. (And Yes, I’ve intentionally left Ryman out…)

Gedi Sibony’s TBC, 2010. Wood, paint.

Terence Koh next to a 45-ton mound of rock salt during his performance/installation nothingtoodooterencekoh.

I was on a selection committee for a residency program when I first saw this work. So weird and wonderful I’m excited to see what comes next. Above is Tarrah Krajnak’s They don’t love you like I love you. (Heart Abortion). 2010.

The ice palace in Dr Zhivago, filmed in Spain the snow was made of white marble dust.

Kayde Anobile‘s Portrait of a Creature.

Alexander McQueen

Ida Florence, the California Prize Beauty, 1890.

Cy Twombly’s Untitled sculpture from 1959.

Katrina Moorhead’s An Island as It Might Be. 2005 at Artpace.



DeeDee Bott September 27, 2011 - 16:21

Wish Michael Tracey’s 1976 sugar work had been included. Same look as Terence Kho’s 45-ton salt installation.

HJ BOTT September 29, 2011 - 02:35

Anxious to see your completed research.
Have made numerous white-on-white paintings over the years, principally using as many different manufactures of “white” in
oil, tempera, vinyls, acrylics, lacquers and enamels as were on
the market at the time. Many obviously have changed, and not
just to yellow.

Sheila September 30, 2011 - 16:14

Dear Margaret,

Love the theme of white. Check out contemporary Irish artist at

Her work Mnemosyne, under installation tag, is a bed made from refridgeration coils that when turned on collects frost and turns entirely white. Its inspiration is from a victorian painting of sick girl dressed in white on a bed.



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