Blau’s first exhibition of new work in nearly a decade, this show also features the earlier work, The Conversation Piece (1993/1995), which depicts political dialogue in all its variety, from tête-à-têtes to the legislative body throughout the ages. Douglas Blau creates picture epics and episodes from uniformly framed collages of printed matter. Postcards, film stills, images of paintings and photographs, and pictures of all kinds are cut and pasted into individual collage elements. These are composed into sequences, strips, and grids based on formal and narrative associations that flow from frame-to-frame. The big picture is depiction itself. Centuries of picture making appear distilled through Blau’s art into an essential cast of characters and repertoire of plots, periods, styles, locations, and genres. Only the details and degrees of abstraction vary over time and through reproduction, the mechanics of which produce the shifts of tone and color, different inks and papers that Blau orchestrates into each overall composition.
Since the 1980s, Douglas Blau has used words and pictures interchangeably to create a highly regarded and unique body of work. He emerged as a critic and curator in tandem with the Pictures Generation of artists. In 1987, his exhibition Fictions was the first in a maverick series to apply curatorial practice to the construction of explicit narratives. These fictions further unfolded through Blau’s writings, including influential essays on Troy Brauntuch, Vija Celmins, Mark Tansey and Elizabeth Peyton, among other artists—in which invented characters, travelogues, and indexes constitute an unusually literary account of contemporary art’s place in Western art history.