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Kirkland Museum: The straps above the table


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The story of Vance Kirkland's studio, and the techniques he developed for completing his Dot Paintings.

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Kirkland Museum: The straps above the table

  1. 1. THE STRAPS OVER THE TABLE In Kirkland’s WorkroomTo create large, abstract paintings with his unique oil and water mixtures andlater dots, Vance Kirkland had to place them flat on a table. Since he then couldnot reach the center of a painting (he was 5’2”), nor could he bend over apainting for 10 hours a day, he lay across straps that were strung from the ceiling,about 1 ½ feet above the painting. He would already have attached skateboardsto the painting’s wooden stretcher (see skateboard on table) and could take acane or hook and pull the painting back and forth. He also could lie in eitherdirection in the straps.A third reason he wanted to float over his canvases, which mostly depictimaginary nebulas and galaxies, was that he did not like to think of his paintings asdirectional, as having a bottom. “There is no up or down in space,” Kirklandstated, “and this is as close as I’ll ever get to being an astronaut.” For the samedirectional reason, he hated to sign his paintings. He would say, “By signing thisabstract painting, I am condemning it to be hung one way for the rest of itsexistence.” Numerous Kirkland paintings are signed twice, along different edges,and he encouraged collectors and museums to hang them all different ways,regardless of the position of his signature. If it was a square painting, Kirklandwould sometimes hang it in a diamond position. More information about Vance Kirkland is available at