abstracr-art.com Index PageAbstract IllusionismLyrical Abstraction ""PriorNext
Defining Illlusionism
Six-Ninths Red, 1966

Ronald Davis
Six-Ninths Red,
72 x 111 inches
Colored polyester resin and fiberglass with wood support.
Available from the artist.

 Sometime during the mid-1960s, having begun my odyssey into abstract illusionism, I made a painting series [ Skew Series, 1966] that didn’t work visually. I had divided a slab into three sections, attempting a three-dimensional perspective effect, but had used isometric perspective which undermined the illusion. My first New York show with Tibor de Nagy was scheduled, and I had only two or three months to create a new, attention grabbing series. Keenly aware that the artistic solution had not yet come to me, I was under terrible pressure.

 I awoke a few nights later from a thrashing nightmare, and practically ran to look at a reproduction of Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even, also known as The Large Glass. My wife and I had noticed the Oculist Witnesses, a group of three disk-shaped objects located at the center right of the painting, and we’d talked about them. Now, in the middle of the night, I closely studied and measured the shapes, and discovered Duchamp had rendered them using two-point perspective as indeed he had the whole very complicated work. With this perceptual strike, I felt mentored from afar by the provocateur Duchamp. [I screamed “eureka” into the night and gulped three aspirins on my way back to bed, where my wife was waiting for me to congratulate her on her powers as an inspiratrice. :-) ] My immediate problem with perspective was solved, and I was able to create the fiberglass resin Slab Series, 1966, feverishly completing nine large paintings in six weeks. Soon after in 1968, with my most important series, I used three-point perspective to create the Dodecagon Series. This was the turning point of my artistic career, which is remarkable considering I had never been taught perspective in art school.

 Duchamp’s Large Glass is typically studied in order to discern the psychological and sexual implications of the Bride, her Bachelors, and The Chocolate Grinder, among other symbols, which Duchamp himself identified. Beyond this, the value of the work purely as a painting, an entity to be considered objectively as a work of visual art, has been overlooked. Putting aside lengthy discussions of Duchamp’s celebrated irony and French puns, and ignoring ten thousand-word analytical essays about the Bride, we are able to view The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even as the wonderful, abstract perspective illusion it truly is. Another of Duchamp’s paintings, Nude Descending A Staircase, is one of the great early developments in Cubism, and affirms his mastery of abstract illusionism, despite shocked emotional reactions when it was exhibited at the Armory Show, New York, 1914.

 Duchamp, along with the Renaissance master of perspective, Paolo Uccello, have informed, inspired, and influenced my work since the development of my Resin Paintings in the 1960s. The concepts and techniques divined from the thoughtful, progressive works of these revolutionary artists are of great interest to me. . . an intellectual challenge for many years. . .

 — Ronald Davis
 September 1, 2001

abstracr-art.com Index PageAbstract IllusionismLyrical Abstraction PriorNext