Untitled #122

Ross Rudel
Untitled #122
wood, fabric and glue, 1993
12 x 13 x 10 inches
Gift of the Richard H. Mumper Estate
1994.149

Untitled #122 comes from Ross Rudel’s most emphatic period of visceral subversion, a period during which a few works in a series would emphasize an almost lewd corporeality that skewed the reading of the less confrontational works. This particular piece is a prime example. In spite of its gourd-like outline and hues, it possesses what the artist refers to as “a wet tee-shirt quality” deriving from its distinctly orificial contours, its slick-looking surface, the explosive cascade of yellowish carpenter’s glue drizzles, and the manner of its presentation—hung just above eye level to ensure a literal “in your face” attitude. But the single most erotically insinuating formal device of #122 is Rudel’s use of tightly stretched material that covers the form to simulate skin, a common feature in his work of the early 1990s. Rudel approached this technique as an aspect of his artistic process, as a form of personal ritual. When the material was rawhide this process would sometimes take many hours of sustained physical exertion. In other instances the faux-skin possessed hermetic personal associations—as is the case for #122, which is encased in a section of discarded bed sheet.