PRINT January 2006

Olivia Booth

“IT IS NO COINCIDENCE," Walter Benjamin wrote in 1933, “that glass is such a hard, smooth material to which nothing can be fixed.” No coincidence, in other words, that cold and sober glass features prominently in the programmatic austerity of Loos and Le Corbusier. Glass in place of walls, Benjamin felt, offered a new, “good” sort of poverty. Traceless and transparent, the enemy of secrets and possessions, glass enacted modernism’s liberation from the plush, festooned decor of bourgeois Victorian interiors. But something can, of course, be fixed to this hard, smooth material: paint.

For Los Angeles–based artist Olivia Booth, who paints on large rectangular sheets of glass, the stark transparency that Benjamin extolled precisely for its unmarkability becomes an exquisite provocation as a surface for abstract marks. For starters, glass, unlike canvas, is not a ground but an indeterminate

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