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LeWitt, Fuseli and 2 Roberts

Robert Sites's avatar Robert Sites

acrylic and stucco on canvas, 2016, 30" x 40" I often reference art history in my work. Here it is Fuseli’s Nightmare and Sol Le Witt’s Incomplete Open Cube. Today most view the Nightmare in post-Freudian terms: a woman in the throws of an erotic dream or nightmare characterized by her abandoned pose, a golden incubus crouching on her lower torso, and the ghost-like horse whose head parts blood red curtains symbolizing repressed animal passion and sexual penetration. But I decided to replace Fuseli’s swooning female with a male nude. I wanted to subvert the notion of the male gaze as controlling the female body. Far too long, women were viewed as irrational, highly strung, and neurotic. It was a notion that held sway in 1781 when Fuseli painted this work and even more so a hundred years later when Freud was interpreting dreams. I also replaced what was probably a nearly empty bottle of laudanum on the table in the lower left of the original painting–perhaps the narcotic source of the woman’s erotic dream–with LeWitt’s Incomplete Open Cube, a modernist “nightmare” for many. Finally, I referenced 35 mm slides, the way that images in art were recorded and transmitted in the pre-digital age, by painting the edge of a slide mount with a red dot in the lower left corner. That dot marked the correct position of the image when loaded in a carousel slide projector.

Entry Details
  • Art form: 2-D
  • Depth: 2 5/8 inches
  • Medium: acrylic & stucco on canvas, 2016
  • Width: 40 inches
  • Year created: 2016
  • Height: 30 inches