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Spectral Landscape with Viewing Stations at Gallery 400 | Art review

John Baldessari, Richard Mosse and other artists explore color.

 (Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery)
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Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery

Richard Mosse,Taking Tiger Mountain, 2011.

 (Photograph: Courtesy of the artist)
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Photograph: Courtesy of the artist

Tyree Callahan, Chromatic Typewriter, 2012.

 (Photograph: Courtesy of the artist)
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Photograph: Courtesy of the artist

Adam Grossi, Call and Response, 2011.

 (Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and Donald Young Gallery)
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Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and Donald Young Gallery

Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, still from Guerrero Negro, 2008.

Curators Pamela Fraser and John Neff open this exhibition with the bubble-gum-hued hills of Eastern Congo. Richard Mosse photographed them in Taking Tiger Mountain (2011) with Kodak’s now-discontinued Aerochrome infrared film—originally used for military surveillance—which reveals normally imperceptible parts of the color spectrum. His arresting, unlikely image of a war-torn region is the perfect introduction to a show that moves away from modernist and postmodernist color studies toward contemporary considerations
of color.

Fraser and Neff organize the works on display into a loose spectrum, which includes invisible colors (as in Mosse’s infrared work) and metallic ones, as in Polly Apfelbaum’s Miss America. This runway-like floor installation of sequined fabric generates its own pageantry, capturing rainbows of light on its iridescent surface and throwing ghostly patterns onto the gallery wall.

John Baldessari’s Six Colorful Tales from the Emotional Spectrum (Women) (1977) cleverly demonstrates how colors can convey strong moods. As each woman in the video shares a personal story—of teenage humiliation or an irrational fear, for example—Baldessari tints the background a different hue, giving the stories titles such as “Catatonic Yellow” or “Apoplectic Violet.” Though this work is considerably older than others on view, it fits. In a recent Bad at Sports interview, Fraser describes Baldessari as the “granddaddy” of the show, and his playful, endlessly experimental approach to color is a visible influence on its younger artists. Fraser’s dense exhibition essay analyzes color from various scholarly perspectives, but “Spectral Landscape” is a dreamy, often psychedelic trip.

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