Recent Acquisition: Information Science by Matt Magee
A TMA visitor studies Matt Magee’s Information Science on the opening day of Arizona Biennial 2020. Photo by Julius Schlosburg.
In a review of the 2019 show A Patterned Language at Etherton Gallery, Tucson Weekly’s Margaret Regan wrote: “Matt Magee’s paintings riff on the most recent human writing: computer codes.”
The show explored three very different approaches to what the gallery called “visual language,” spanning thousands of years. “Art, you could say, was really the first writing,” Regan observed.
Information Science, one of the pieces in the 2019 Etherton show, is now in TMA’s permanent collection. You might remember the painting if you visited Arizona Biennial 2020. The work was selected by juror Joe Baker for inclusion in the exhibition. Following the Biennial, Magee generously donated his work to TMA.
Matt Magee, Information Science, 2017 Oil on panel, 48 x 30 in. Collection of the Tucson Museum of Art. Gift of the Artist. 2020.47
Information Science is a field concerned with information: its analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval, movement, dissemination and protection. Although done for thousands of years using analog methods, the term almost immediately brings computers to mind.
Magee’s painting of that name is a patchwork of contemporary computer code depicted in the centuries-old medium of oil paint. Within the matrix are 27 individual paintings. The work catalogues and organizes the forms into a collective image.
Human mark-making was once done exclusively by hand, whether on stone, papyrus or paper. In our current digital world where language and information are captured, organized and duplicated almost instantaneously, Magee uses an old and labor-intensive process to document them. In a society of microchip processors and storage devices the size of one’s fingernail, Magee’s four-foot oil on panel demands contemplation.
Get a peek inside Matt Magee’s sketchbook in this video from his 2016 residency at Tamarind Institute, a lithography workshop in Albuquerque, NM.
About the Artist
Matt Magee is an American contemporary artist best known for his minimal abstract geometric paintings, sculptures, prints, assemblages, murals and photographs. He was born in Paris in 1961 and moved from there to Tripoli, Libya and then to London. After completing a BA in Art History at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, he moved to Brooklyn in 1984 to attend Pratt Institute for an MFA and maintained a studio in New York City until 2012. From 1994-2012 he worked with Robert Rauschenberg in his studio building, a converted 19th century orphanage, in Lower Manhattan.
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