METAMORPHOSIS – Process, sequence and the usefullness of failure

In this project we will be working with the idea of Metamorphosis with a particular focus on process and/or sequence.

Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it. Do something else to it. — Jasper Johns

There are many artists whose work come about through a highly developed process. Some very structured and some that use the “happy accident” to guide or react to in making their work. Below are a few artists that have developed a specific process to create their paintings.

In a large number of paintings and drawings Jasper Johns deploys or depicts a mechanical device used in the actual making of the work. His approach is often instructive. His note books are filled with instructions or ideas for how to make a painting as well as circular logics that seem to inform his approach to art making.

Jasper Johns (born 1930)

Encaustic and collage on canvas with object
Andrew and Denise Saul
Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Photo by Becket Logan

oil on canvas with objects (five panels)
Collection of Irma and Norman Braman
Art © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Mark Bradford | The Artist’s Museum from MOCA on Vimeo.

Mark Bradford transforms materials scavenged from the street into wall-sized collages and installations that respond to the impromptu networks—underground economies, migrant communities, or popular appropriation of abandoned public space—that emerge within a city. Bradford’s work is as informed by his personal background as a third-generation merchant in Los Angeles as it is by the tradition of abstract painting developed worldwide in the twentieth century.

Alex Hubbard is a painter and video artist whose videos explicitly reveal and document the process.

Kate Gilmore is a video artist that process oriented and very physical actions also use a great deal of the language of painting. As in the below clip where is is literally kicking through the walls to create a painterly figure ground relationship through the use of layers and color.

SHORT: Julie Mehretu: Workday.

Julie Mehretu


Another tactic painters have use to create a narrative, show a progression of an action or represent metamorphosis is through sequence.

Gerhard Richter created a “cycle” of 15 paintings titled October 18, 1977 created between March and November 1988. The paintings are the result of his fascination with terrorist group the Red Army Faction (RAF), which had been active in Germany since the beginning of the 1970s. The group tried to draw attention to their grievances about capitalist society by means of armed robberies and bomb attacks. The leading members of the first generation of the group were arrested in 1972. Their terrorist activities, their unparalleled pursuit by the police force and their joint suicides provoked heated discussion in Germany for a long time.



Ida Applebroog uses sequence to create and disturb a narrative. Usually repeating the same scene to produce a psychological tension. Her sometimes grotesque, sometimes humorous work is unsettling and impactful.

Francis Alys

If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.  – Woody Allen


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