new-york

Lucy Skaer, Harlequin’s Ingots (detail), 2012, copper, twenty-four parts, dimensions variable.

Lucy Skaer

Murray Guy

Lucy Skaer, Harlequin’s Ingots (detail), 2012, copper, twenty-four parts, dimensions variable.

The jesterlike Harlequin has been a favorite subject for artists since his creation in sixteenth-century Italy. An ungovernable character often responsible for derailing the drama’s plot, the Harlequin sports a multicolored geometric uniform that also makes him an attractively graphic visual icon. But the character’s role changed over time; originally a cowardly fool whose patchwork outfit signified poverty, he became, by the late-eighteenth century, a cunning prankster, the same outfit now a symbol of physical agility and a mercurial nature. Something of this shifting emphasis can be traced through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries via well-known paintings by Cézanne, Degas, Manet, and Picasso. In “Harlequin Is as Harlequin Does,” British artist Lucy Skaer attempted a further revitalization of the time-honored subject by incorporating elements of his look into a set of

Sign-in 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 May 2012 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

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