Sarah Morris’s paintings and films explore the social, architectural, and topographical patterns of urban life. Her paintings typically are composed of complex overlaid line grids and geometric shapes tipped at sharp angles into space, suggestive of roadways and architectural facades seen from multiple perspectives and competing, superimposed viewpoints. These constructions are sometimes based on photographs that the artist takes herself and scans into a computer in order to extract their linear geometries. She then fills in these black and white patterns with an array of acid-bright colors painted in glossy, flat, opaque segments with ordinary household enamels.
Drawn to urban centers marked by post-modern glitz and consumerist vitality, Morris has produced films and paintings investigating and inspired by Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami. More recently she focused her work, as in 1952 (Rings), on Beijing, the site for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Her film, Beijing (2008), portrayed the city as it underwent monumental change. Architecture, the role of the state, and the aesthetic tension between the commercial and the political are her underlying themes.
1952 (Rings) is part of a series of paintings referencing Beijing’s increasingly congested traffic arteries, the Ring Roads, while also suggesting the famous Olympics ring symbol. Here interlocking circles cascade diagonally across the center of the composition from corner to corner, overlaying a substrata of vertical and diagonal lines that may imply an earlier, more orderly system of roads or urban structures. Hot yellows, oranges, pinks, and greens intensify the sense of high-speed movement.
Sarah Morris (American, 1967), 1952 (Rings), household gloss paint on canvas, 84 x ¼ x 84 ¼ inches. Museum purchase with funds provided by Gladys Rubenstein in memory of Sam Rubenstein, 26-2007.