With a career spanning several decades and countless exhibitions, British-born artist Anthony McCall built his reputation as a visionary and avant-garde creator with a captivating and often beguiling experiential concept, which is laid bare in a new exhibition at New York's Sean Kelly Gallery. Entitled 'Notebooks & Duration Drawings, 1972 – 2013', the exhibition features a select group of the artist's studio notebooks and works on paper, from the 1970s through to the last decade.
McCall's installations classically feature a room swathed in darkness, with a single light source piercing the stillness and tracing a shape on the opposite wall. The shape morphs and changes over time, while particles trapped in the beam oscillate and undulate, or are caught in the wake of audience members; these elements lend a temporal and three-dimensional element to the work, which falls between film, sculpture and performance.
Despite a deceptively simple premise, an incredible amount of work goes into each installation, with each individual piece evolving out of previous works. 'New ideas tend to grow out of earlier ones,' says McCall. 'The notebooks are the place where I begin exploring the idea; I keep drawing until I have a sense of what it is.'
Furthermore, during his earliest explorations with the theme (including 1973's seminal Line Describing a Cone), the artist employed essential camera and animation techniques based on simple line drawings. During the last decade, the advent of digital technology has granted a greater degree of precision. Regardless of technique, he explains, the desired effect is the same. 'What I end up with are still volumetric tent-like enclosures of projected light in a large, darkened space.'