Review: Marie Cosindas — Amon Carter Museum

[Originally published in The Dallas Morning News]

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The images on display at the Amon Carter exhibition, “Marie Cosindas: Instant Color,” are vividly, glitteringly gorgeous. They’re crafted with a delicacy that is freighted with beauty reminiscent of Troubadour poetry. Specifically, ordinary — not to mention highly celebrated — figures are eroticized via devotion. By this, I don’t mean they become crass; on the contrary, they are ushered into a lyric world of formal brilliance.

One example is “Floral with Golden Vase,” a splendid bunching of peonies, splayed poppies, leaves and feathers. We see a gleaming brass vase and another, smaller vessel that’s red and jammed with small white and pinkish blooms. The image is shocking because it shows us what things become when they’re split and the “really real” spills out. Thus, we’re left with an insight into the lucent, missile, and — ultimately — unbuttoned truth of things.

Each of Ms. Cosindas’s images come across as jewels; they’re ripe and drenched with color that is the product of both her remarkable eye and an attention to craft that’s achingly astute. Each work is the result of a process using a standard view camera with a Polaroid back. By experimenting with techniques that included heat and exposure times, she created images that surpassed even what Polaroid technicians thought possible.

 

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Another work, “Andy Warhol,” is equally intriguing. It calls to mind John Singer Sargent portraits because we’re given clues about the subject’s life in oblique ways. He’s sitting on a rough landing that’s easy to surmise is located in New York. Both the tilt of his chin and his large sunglasses would tell us volumes — even if we had no clue regarding his fame. The door behind him is propped open. Thus, we spot a metal landing and a less than chichi apartment building with open windows. He’s clearly elegant — note the position of his hands — and he’s also a liminal figure, situated in doorways where inside and outside converge. Somehow, the sign “FIRE EXIT” also seems appropriate. His “factory” burned so brilliantly that it no doubt resonated with a capacity for combustion.

Ms. Cosindas gives us all this and more. Her works are marvels that, to carry the trope of fire still further, flare with a pyrotechnics all her own.

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