Lot 102807X (Yellow)
182.9 cm x 182.9 cm (72 in. x 72 in.)
(San Antonio, Texas, 1955 - )
North America, American
Medium and Support:
Acrylic polyvinyl acetate on linen and wall, with rayon and steel zipper
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase through the generosity of Houston Endowment, Inc. in honor of Melissa Jones, with support from Jeanne and Michael Klein and Lora Reynolds and Quincy Lee, 2014
Donald Moffett’s paintings often misbehave. For the past twenty years, Moffett has been unraveling the conventions associated with painting, perpetually renegotiating the terms of the most vaunted medium in the history of art.
In works like this, part of a larger group of canvases Moffett calls “gutted” or “flayed,” he literally turns painting inside out, painting only the insides of their unzipped flaps. Zippers remind us of bodies they were designed to conceal. The yellow center of this painting is, upon close looking, not canvas at all, but rather the wall itself—a normally invisible backdrop recast as a focal point. In Moffett’s practice, centers and margins frequently switch places, leaving us to catch up with the changing rules of his game.
Moffett established himself as an artist in the midst of the AIDS crisis and was a founding member of Gran Fury, an AIDS activist collective formed in 1989 in New York and famous for murals and posters they produced with slogans such as “Kissing Doesn’t Kill: Greed and Indifference Do.” Although Moffett’s political work and his painting practice are often examined separately, the AIDS epidemic has undoubtedly contributed to the persistent presence of the human body in his work. Even some of his most abstract-looking paintings register the body and hint at the pleasures it enjoys and the pains it endures.