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Ellen Gallagher in "Play"Preview

Repetition and revision are central to Ellen Gallagher’s treatment of advertisements appropriated from popular magazines. Although her work has often been interpreted as an examination of race, Gallagher also suggests a more formal reading—from afar the work appears abstract and minimal, and employs grids as both structure and metaphors for experience.

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Ellen Gallagher

Repetition and revision are central to Ellen Gallagher’s  treatment of advertisements that she appropriates from popular magazines like Ebony and Our World. Initially drawn to wig advertisements because of their grid-like structure, she later realized that it was the accompanying language that attracted her. Gallagher began to bring these “narratives” into her paintings—making them function through the characters of the advertisements, as a kind of chart of lost worlds. Although the work has often been interpreted strictly as an examination of race, Gallagher also suggests a more formal reading with respect to materials, processes, and insistences. From afar, the work appears abstract and minimal; upon closer inspection, googly eyes, reconfigured wigs, tongues, and lips of minstrel caricatures multiply in detail.

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