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Josephine Halvorson Is on the Clock

March 15, 2013

Can an artist create a compelling work in a single day? In this film, artist Josephine Halvorson attempts to make a new painting in Thomaston, Connecticut, conscious throughout the day that her effort might result in failure. Choosing as her image the mural of a clock, Halvorson’s obsession with time is both literal and metaphoric, reflected in the subject matter, the hours passing by, and the additive process of her brushstrokes.

“I love stuff that shows you how it’s made,” says the artist, “I haven’t found a way to paint in successive days on the same surface that doesn’t feel like concealment.” As the painting continues, Halvorson struggles with the oppressive summer heat, dwindling light, and the mental struggle to realize her ambitions. “Such a huge part of making art is having these high expectations and not reaching them,” she says. The film follows the artist from a residency at Steep Rock Arts in rural Connecticut to, several months later, her studio in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard where the fate of the painting is ultimately determined.

More information and credits

Featuring the works Shutter 1–4 (2012), Room 441 (2012), Barber-Bettendorf (2012), Ride Control (2012), Cheddar (2012), XII (2012), VI (2012), III (2012), and IX (2012).


Art21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Mary Ann Toman. Cinematography: John Marton, Wesley Miller, Rafael Moreno Salazar & Ava Wiland. Sound: Ava Wiland & Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Design: Crux Studio & Open. Artwork: Josephine Halvorson. Thanks: Artzfest 2012, Erika Klauer, Mural Artists, The Phoenix Rising Center & Steep Rock Arts. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2013. All rights reserved.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Interested in showing this film in an exhibition or public screening? To license this video please visit Licensing & Reproduction.

Josephine Halvorson

Josephine Halvorson was born in 1981 in Brewster, Massachusetts, formerly worked in New York, and currently lives and works in Western Massachusetts. Combining acute attention to detail and an insistence on painting from life, Halvorson gives herself only one day to complete each canvas. Traveling outside of New York to paint, she works onsite, often selecting scenes that convey a sense of postindustrial grit. Interested in her relationship to the subjects of her paintings, Halvorson resists the term painter; she prefers to think of painting as recording time spent with an object in its environment.

“I love stuff that shows you how it’s made. I haven’t found a way to paint in successive days on the same surface that doesn’t feel like concealment.”

Josephine Halvorson