PRINT April 2001


If it had been possible to build the Tower of Babel without ascending it, the work would have been permitted.

—Franz Kafka, Parables and Paradoxes

Spencer Finch hardly looks up as I step into his unusually tidy studio. Bent over, dabbing paint onto what seems to be a large polka-dot drawing, he blurts out a casual “Hi” as he circles his cinemascope-shaped work like a chess master scrutinizing the position of his opponent. A minute later he finally straightens up and looks at me. “You see this color here? It's the color of that chair,” Finch says, pointing to a rust orange piece of furniture sitting across the studio. When I approach the work, I see that the name of something nearby has been finely penciled in around the bottom of each circle: the World Trade Center (visible through the window); the word “real” written on a piece of paper; a T-shirt (now dust rag); a book on Ad Reinhardt;

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