Nine Planks V

John McCracken
Nine Planks V
Polyester resin, fiberglass and plywood, 1974
96 x 19 x 2 1/4 inches
Gift of Murray and Ruth Gribin
1984.026

McCracken’s Nine Planks V undermines our conventional expectation of sculpture. Its surface is at once monochromatic and opaque as well as highly reflective–a result of the artist’s use of resin and fiberglass, which allows for a highly glossy surface in a deep transparent color. He was among a group of young contemporary southern California artists that exploited new materials like polyester resin and fiberglass in the 1960s and 1970s in search of a reduction of both color and form. The surface effects achieved by Southern California custom car painters and surfboard makers provided their inspiration.

McCracken typically works in series and Nine Planks V is, as the title suggests, number five in a series of nine planks. Each plank in the series is the same, a highly polished black plinth that is meant to be experienced casually leaning against a wall, or alternatively as one in a series of nine exhibited together. Intensely black, Nine Planks V absorbs its surrounding space, and spits it back out as a reflection, as if it were a magical doorway to another realm. In the process it changes from a dense and tangible object to an intangible object, from a presence to an absence. It becomes a negative hole in space.