Ellen Banks


Ellen Banks’ most recent exploration of contemporary synesthesia consists of a series of “Improvisations” (all works 1990) in the form of minimalist grids derived from the piano and vocal scores of Johannes Brahms. Three small mixed-media works on paper, entitled “Waltzes,” feature horizontal grids of acrylic, the color and geometric structure of which are derived from Brahms’ Opus 39. Two artist’s books, or “Songbooks” containing 12 and 25 pages are based respectively on Brahams’ songs “Dein blaues Auge” (Your blue eye) and “Bei dir sind meine Gedanken” (My thoughts are with you). Each handmade paper page of the songbooks, built up of layers of iridescent acrylic resembling the mystical gemstones turquoise, amber, and amethyst, refers to a specific measure of Brahms’ vocal scores.

For the last decade, Banks, who studied music and painting, has adapted the scores of major composers into

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