Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s

Feb 11–Jun 3, 2012

In Dotty Attie’s fractured reprisals of well-known works of art, great paintings of the past—here, John Singleton Copley’s (American, 1738–1815) Watson and Shark (1778)—recur in abbreviated form, split into checkerboards of disjointed panels edged with the bare gallery wall behind them. Attie’s carefully hand-wrought copies play with ideas of both originality and mechanical reproduction. In An Eminent Painter, Attie uses this mode of fragmented re-presentation to inject her source material with politics and affect: texts at the painting’s corners complicate Copley’s place in the history of the American Revolution, and the repetition of the extended hand emphasizes both the urgency and the futility of the gesture in Copley’s original.