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36  |   S E E I N G  R E D
For Barbara Whitney Keyser
Wall object, 2001
Painted wood
40 x 30 x 12 cm
Private collection.


SEEING RED is a small, one-off piece, which can be traced back to the aborted “Morse-picture” series described just above. Here, two very red, very shiny cylindrical blocks—representing two dots in Morse Code: the letter “I”—are both tipped with hemispheres of wood that have been painted to resemble eyeballs. Placed side by side on an equally red, box-like wooden background , they poke, like stalked eyes, out of a glossy picture plane in which the viewer sees himself reflected, head and shoulders.

SEEING RED makes use of the title my cousin Barbara Whitney Keyser planned to give the book she wanted to publish about color theory and perception. It was to have been an elaboration on The Mediation of Color, her doctoral thesis in the History of Art; its cover illustration was to to be a reproduction of Arnold Schoenberg’s small painting Der rote Blick (“Red Gaze,” 1910), which Barbara and I had seen, in 1992, hanging among the plethora of Schoenberg’s self-portraits in an exhibition at the Akademie der Künste Berlin.

Barbara died, in March 2000, still at work on Seeing Red.

 SEEING RED, wall object, 40 x 30 x 12 cm, painted wood,  2001.