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In the mid-1970s, David Reed (born 1946 in San Diego, lives and works in New York) translated the saturated expressive gesture of the brushstroke into an artificial, highly controlled representation of the “brushstroke”. Whereas in Abstract Expressionism, the trace of the hand still pointed to artistic introspection, Reed transformed it into an object of analysis and manipulation. This correlates to his elaborate technique of painting with alkyd that creates unusual effects, lending the pictures an immaculate smoothness and elegance reminiscent of photography and mannerism.
In the medium of painting, the artist also reflects on his visual experience with the moving images of television and cinema. With the farsightedness of an intellectual, Reed manages to question the parameters of painting afresh, across the borders of historical period and genre, with John Ford or Alfred Hitchcock playing just as important a role as Piero della Francesca or Peter Paul Rubens. A fellow New York artist once referred to Reed’s work as “Technicolor painting”, a description welcomed by Reed, who realized early on that “the more I think about film, the better my pictures are.” Not just Reed’s elongated formats or the photographic smoothness of his loops of colour are reminiscent of the cinema, but also their lighting and film-like dramaturgy.
The legendary American television series Miami Vice, launched by NBC in 1984, was a visual revelation, and Reed was not immune to its spell. Replacing plot and characters with images, emotions and pure energy revolutionized television. Colour and form triumphed over content, which often took a back seat. In 1984/85, Reed painted Vice, a picture characterized by saturated shades of blue and yellow. For an exhibition at Pérez Art Museum in Miami in 2016/2017, he created a new series of works; the four large-format pictures will now be shown in Europe for the first time, together with corresponding drawings, colour studies and a video film with a manipulated scene from the pilot for Miami Vice.
Dr. Thomas Heyden, Neues Museum
The accompanying booklet for the exhibition, which you can obtain free of charge when visiting the exhibition, can be viewed online as a PDF or downloaded here.