NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 77

l Einsteins Edge of Winter, 2009-2011 Diptych, Acrylic on linen 90 x 144 inches n Ornette, 2006 Acrylic on linen 72 x 90 inches Equally complicated — and peculiar — is Norton’s treatment of these rough-hewn sculptural forms. In principle, their parts could have vectored off in multiple directions, their shapes could have punctuated and manipulated space in infinite ways. Some of the loosely figurative ones — such as Chat, 1984 — do exactly that. But, for the most part, Norton confined this work to grids and the relation of one rectangular element to another, as though the components were slightly jumbled windows — or canvases (Yellow Wire, 1983). Indeed, many of them are actually painted: sculptures in real space daubed with pigment, evoking paintings that, Alberti asserted, function as windows into virtual space (American Goat, 1983). 75 And here the formal dichotomy in his work becomes as evident as the psychological. These sculptures, clearly in line with the modernist heritage, simultaneously evoke various Native American constructs: litters, teepee and hut, skeletons, racks for drying or smoking (e.g., Short Horn, 1982). This is only natural, in a sense. As the controversial 1984 MoMA exhibition “‘Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art” demonstrated, borrowings from indigenous cultures (seen as purer, more authentic, closer to the sources of deep inspiration) have been part and parcel of artistic modernism at least since Gauguin went to Tahiti and Picasso was struck dumb by African masks at the Trocadéro. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE l Pink-E, 2011 Diptych, Acrylic on linen 66 x 104 inches