Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s

Feb 11–Jun 3, 2012

Crowded together on the gallery wall, Allan McCollum’s Collection of Ten Plaster Surrogates feature uniformly black centers that both refer to and revise the twentieth-century tradition of the monochrome (artwork created using a single color), which was alternately hailed as the epitome of abstract painting and as its end. As objects the works are difficult to classify: They are neither sculptures nor paintings. Each Surrogate is created by hand from a plaster-cast mold, confounding the distinction between mass production and the uniqueness of fine art. Positioning the works as approximations (or surrogates) of painting, McCollum has referred to them as “props,” as if their primary job is to act like a painting. By literally fusing the work and its frame, McCollum suggests that meaning is not located in the work of art itself but is produced through the context in which it is viewed.