This and That: Puzzles

by Brandon Zech January 9, 2021

“This and That” is an occasional series of paired observations. See past “This and That” posts here. – Ed.

Today: Puzzles

Since lockdown last March, puzzles have become undeniably popular. In addition to the numerous puzzles found in museum gift stores depicting well-known museum collections and artworks, there’s been rushes on puzzles on Amazon, at bookstores, and nearly everywhere else.

As with all things, artists have been using puzzles, or the concept of puzzles, in their work for a long time. Here’s a look at some of those pieces.

Texas Artist Ana Fernandez Puzzle

San Antonio artist Ana Fernandez’s BOO puzzle from the Art Puzzle Project

Kristin Capp Puzzle, Palacios Hotel, Texas photograph

Kristin Capp, Puzzle, Palacios Hotel, Texas. Gelatin silver print, 1996, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Ralph Gibson. Image © Kristin Capp.

Petra Hartman "Puzzle" Brooch

Petra Hartman, “Puzzle” Brooch. Collection of the MFAH, Helen Williams Drutt Collection, museum purchase funded by the Caroline Wiess Law Foundation.

Gabriel Dawe puzzle at Talley Dunn Gallery

Gabriel Dawe, Missing No. 4. 24 karat gold on puzzle in artist frame, 2019. From a recent exhibition at Talley Dunn Gallery, Dallas.

Vija Celmins Puzzle museum of modern art

Vija Celmins, Puzzle. Oil on wood, 1965-66, Collection of MoMA, Gift of Edward R. Broida. Image © Vija Celmins.

Louise Bourgeois Puzzle

Louise Bourgeois, Fenelon. Spray paint, synthetic polymer paint, pencil, and ballpoint pen on jigsaw puzzle, 1994, Collection of MoMA, Gift of Sarah-Ann and Werner H. Kramarsky and an anonymous donor. Image © The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY.

Benjamin Patterson A Volume of Collected Poems, Volume 7, Poems

Benjamin Patterson, A piece from A Volume of Collected Poems, Volume 7. Collage on card, paper and linen boxes, plastic bag, 1962, Collection of MoMA, The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift. Image © Ben Patterson.

And of course, we can’t forget Al Souza (who also, coincidentally, was the subject of one of Glasstire’s first reviews).


No matter how original, innovative or crazy your idea, someone else is also working on that idea. Furthermore, they are using notation very similar to yours. – Bruce J. MacLennan


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Andy Fothergill January 10, 2021 - 11:43

Don’t forget Felix Gonzalez-Torres photos as puzzles in plastic bags…

Natali January 10, 2021 - 12:02

There is also Tim Klein who mixes puzzles into surreal scenes.


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