Greenfield-Sanders’ parachute paintings are based on vintage WWII and Korean War era images. With this work the artist continues her exploration of personal and borrowed memory and, on a formal level, engages in an investigation of color separation. Says Greenfield-Sanders: “I was drawn to the parachute images both for their formal simplicity and for their metaphoric resonance in a time of war. The title of the show “Against the Fall” is a literal translation of the late 18th century French word "Parachute" (para 'protection against' + chute 'the fall'.)”
The paintings draw on sources as diverse as Edouard Manet, Winslow Homer, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Claude Monet, Andy Warhol and Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s children’s book Le Petit Prince, which has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. Le Petit Prince leaves an indelible impression on readers due in large part to its singular illustrations. According to Greenfield-Sanders “Le Petit Prince recalls the same mix of dreamlike memories that I hope my paintings evoke. The parachute paintings, and in particular the line drawings, were made with this book in mind.”
Yet a darker subtext haunts these paintings. In the three large 63 x 63-inch “Parachute Class” series of paintings a group of servicemen grapple with a large white parachute. The figures recall Manet’s “Execution of Maximilian and Goya’s “The Third of May”. Of course in the Parachute Class paintings the figures are not a firing squad but are instead engaging with an object that has connotations of safety, freedom and escape. Nevertheless, the art historical references and the fact that the source imagery for these works is a cache of World War II photographs signals to the viewer that larger questions are afoot. Other works in the show like “Black and White Parachute (Black)” also suggest a more complex political reading of these paintings. And while the 35 x 35-inch gold leaf paintings depicting a single parachute clearly reference Warhol’s “Gold Marilyn Monroe” from 1962, the gold parachute paintings also speak to a desire for escape from our increasingly complex and strained financial world.
On a formal level printing is integral to Greenfield-Sanders’ work, which combines the digital with the handmade. Greenfield-Sanders explains that the palette of this series reflects the CMYK color separation breakdown. The parachute paintings were originally painted as the source images appeared: blue sky with red and white striped parachutes. As she had done with earlier work, Greenfield-Sanders removed the blue and painted the image pink which gave the work an otherworldly quality. For the third group she decided to paint them black--“like night escapes or something more ominous”, she says. With the addition of the gold group she had the entire CMYK spectrum: blue (C, cyan), pink (M, magenta), black (K, key) and gold (Y, yellow.)”
Isca Greenfield-Sanders lives and works in the East Village and on a lake in the Hudson Highlands. Her work is included in many private and public collections including The Guggenheim Museum in New York. In early 2006 her work was the subject of a two-person exhibition at the Museum Mosbroich in Leverkusen, Germany. Her work has been the subject of articles in many magazines and publications including Art News, Tema Celeste, Elle, Departures, Vanity Fair, Elle Décor, and Art Forum.
Isca Greenfield-Sanders Against the Fall September 6 - October 11, 2008
Goff + Rosenthal, New York
Goff + Rosenthal
537B West 23rd Street
New York, NY