18. Sarah Morris

    Sarah Morris b.1967, London, England Maison De France [Rio] household gloss on canvas, 2013 The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art Gift of Barbara '68 and Theodore '68 Alfond Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College 2013.34.148 Sarah Morris approaches her subjects as an anthropologist of sorts. In her practice, she uses filmmaking and painting in tandem as a means to explore the complex histories and realities of various cities. She often works in series, each one focusing on a single cosmopolitan area and portraying an aesthetic inspired by the distinctive feel and flavor of the given locale. Morris has completed bodies of work on sites as diverse as Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Beijing, and the resulting artworks allude to the topography, the manmade structures, and the many other visual signs and symbols that distinguish each city from any other. Maison De France [Rio] is part of her recent Rio de Janeiro series that investigates the fraught nature of the Brazilian city, where contrasts between wealth and poverty, capitalism and corruption, and charming surface appearances and unappealing realities collide. Although the painting is abstract, the title of the work contextualizes its composition and firmly ties it to a concrete place, in this case Rio’s French consulate. Her other paintings in the Rio series reference specific sites, companies, and buildings around the city, and their borrowed forms and colors exude the rich texture of Rio. The influence of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, whose structures infused Brazil with a modern aesthetic, can be seen in this and in other works in the series. The minimalist blocks of color in Maison De France [Rio], as well as the profusion of white, black, and grey, echo the clean lines of Niemeyer’s buildings. The punctuations of yellow, blue, orange, and green, on the other hand, evoke the colorful nature of Rio, where beaches and fruit vendors enliven the city.