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OPENINGS: JUSTIN MATHERLY

Justin Matherly, New Beaches (detail), 2012, glass-reinforced concrete, ambulatory devices, 10' 6" x 11' x 6'. Installation view, City Hall Park, New York.

IN HIS 1938 PAINTING Imaginary Portrait of D. A. F. de Sade, Man Ray renders the great libertine in profile, his features recognizably human—a blue eye, red lips—but his face and body made of worn gray blocks of stone, his name and dates of birth and death inscribed as if by chisel. Literally “built like a brick shithouse,” as artist John Miller has observed, and just as impassive, Sade looks on while the Bastille, his former site of imprisonment, is engulfed in flames. Man Ray memorializes him as if he were a monumental living statue, animate yet inorganic.

The writings of Sade are important to the sculptor Justin Matherly, even if Man Ray is not. “Sade’s reason,” Matherly insists, “his unyielding and intransigent use of reason, is meant to shed light on the totalitarian aspect of reason unchecked.” Matherly pursues his own critique of reason in sculptural terms, using

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