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Wally Hedrick

The Box

The first and most monumental of numerous black monochromes featured in this timely and well-edited survey of works by Wally Hedrick, who died in 2003 at the age of seventy-five, is War Room, 1967–68/2002, a massive volume enclosed on four sides by eight huge, vertical canvases bolted together. The backs of the paintings’ stretchers face outward so that the work resembles a theater set, and a door inserted in one of the canvases allows viewers to step inside the tomblike vault of a space. The tarlike oil surfaces of Hedrick’s paintings are heavy—in multiple senses of the word: They are visually weighty, dense, slow; they signify death.

Hedrick’s willingness and stated desire to have the paintings signify in this way—explicitly indicated in his titles, which frequently refer to specific wars or political figures—suggest that these monochromes are not “pure” in the teleological sense of the

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