Mark Grotjahn

Blum & Poe | Los Angeles

The “butterfly” has become to Mark Grotjahn what the target is to Kenneth Noland, the zip was to Barnett Newman, and the color white is to Robert Ryman. Of course Grotjahn is goofing on these and other classic motifs, but more important, he is using the immediately recognizable trademark as a means to interrogate the slippery nature of the artistic signature. Grotjahn’s abstracted geometric figure is suitably elusive. In fact, the more familiar it becomes, the more he refines its ability to surprise and, perhaps paradoxically, takes it further away from actual butterflyness.

Grotjahn started making paintings with/of multiple, independent perspectival vanishing points in 1998, initially stacking three horizons in a single canvas before moving on to the vertical, not-quite-symmetrical wings of today’s models in 2001. In these, he investigates the possibilities afforded by the monochromatic

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the November 2005 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.