Matthew Angelo Harrison creates technically precise sculptures rich with art-historical allusion, mixing and interrogating touchstones as diverse as 1970s American Minimalism, Benin bronzes, and Adolf Loos. His work is currently on view as part of the Whitney Biennial at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art through September 22 and “Colored People Time: Mundane Futures” at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art through August 11. Below, Harrison discusses his sculpture Dark Povera: Manufactured Primitives, 2019,which is included in the Cranbrook Art Museum’s “Landlord Colors: On Art, Economy, and Materiality,”open through October 6.

THIS SCULPTURE COMES FROM A BODY OF WORK I call “Dark Povera,” 2017–. For this series I collect data from postcolonial African art and then synthesize that information with digital replicas or artifacts from a huge pool of masks with similar characteristics. Then I reproduce these amalgams in ceramic clay using machines that I built. These machines work like 3-D printers, by building up the layers of clay, but they’re a little different. They invite a bit of mechanical flexibility that I harness to create the work. Clay is a traditional art material, and I find that constructing the work with technology creates an unexpected in-between object. I have been very interested in the conversation surrounding “the prototype” and feel it’s a productive space in which to discuss the construction of identity and culture-building. Continue reading…

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