Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall. Photo: Darren O’Brien/Guzelian

 

Since the 1970s, Anthony McCall (*1946) has been using light to cut ethereal shapes into the space of dark, smoke-filled interiors. In a unique intersection of media, his works are simultaneously films, installations, sculptures, drawings and environments experienced through time, part of an investigation into the sculptural potential of the film medium.

 

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McCall’s early association with radical film practice in late 1960s London soon extended to an interest in performance, perhaps most famously with the work Landscape for Fire (1972) and the 16mm film that is a document of this moment. Small fires were ceremoniously lit in a geometric pattern by white-uniformed participants in a field, accompanied by the sound of the flaring fires and a foghorn that created the sense of a scientific experiment or state of emergency. The grid system gave structure to the unpredictable volatility of fire as a medium as well as an overarching governing structure, perhaps akin to a musical score, in which the quantity of petrol to burn, number and spacing of fires, walking pace and ignition sequence were all strictly measured.

Upon the completion of this work, McCall considered the primary event to be the performance and not the film. This realization led him to whether he could make a film that exists solely at that moment of projection, and if so, what form would it take. His first attempt to find that form was Line Describing a Cone (1973), a painstakingly hand-drawn single point that extends into a full circle, with the light between the screen and the projector slowly becoming a conical plane of light in a haze-filled three dimensional space. The austerity of such a gesture was stripped back even further with Long Film for Ambient Light (1975) in which even the projector was dispensed of in lieu of a single bulb hung from the ceiling of a blacked out room, the cinematic event reduced to the incidental light effects of the source on the space. McCall referred to this new series of projections as “solid-light works.”

It was only in the late 1990s that McCall returned to such works, his interest piqued by the development of the haze machine, the prevalence of new screen and projection-based practices and the arrival of custom animation software and high luminosity, long-throw digital projectors. These permitted him to create waves, ellipses and other complex curvilinear geometries that, along with titles such as Breath, Meeting you Halfway (2009) and Between You and I (2006), allude further to states of exchange between the multiple linear trajectories of the body-like forms. In both analogue and digital practices, the movements of the viewer’s body are gently encouraged to synchronize with the film’s drifts and undulations, creating harmonic patterns of slow-motion bodily response and a heightened sense of corporeal awareness. McCall’s phenomenological approach to understanding the work also creates a link to the minimalist and post-minimalist sculptors that distanced themselves from the internal dynamics of the art object, instead favoring the immediate perceptual dynamics of the encounter between viewer and sculpture.

A body of preparatory drawings and maquettes has always accompanied the films, combining the functions of storyboard, mathematical formulae, perspectival drawing and a looser, more generous working out of form. In their function of freezing a work to its core formal elements, either for the artist or a collaborator, they offer both an insight into working processes and a moment of contemplation for McCall’s key concerns of space and time.

 

 

Anthony McCall: Five Minutes of Pure Sculpture 
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, April 20–August 12, 2012

Works
Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
Solid Light Works
Installation view, The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire, February 16–June 3, 2018

Anthony McCall
Face to Face, 2013
Installation view, The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire, February 16–June 3, 2018
Photo: Lewis Ronald

Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
Line Describing a Cone, 1973

Anthony McCall
Line Describing a Cone, 1973
16mm film, black-and-white, silent, 30-minute cycle

Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
Landscape for Fire, 1972

Anthony McCall
Landscape for Fire, 1972
16mm transferred to DVD 2006, sound
07:00 min

Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
Landscape for Fire: Score for Eternal Condition, 1973

Anthony McCall
Landscape for Fire: Score for Eternal Condition, 1973
Blue and red ink, pencil and offset lithographed photograph on graph paper
44.5 × 56.5 cm
17 1/2 × 22 1/4 inches

Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
Conical Solid, 1974

Anthony McCall
Conical Solid, 1974
16mm film, black-and-white, silent, 10 minute cycle
16mm xenon projector, looper, haze machine

Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
Doubling Back, 2003

Anthony McCall
Doubling Back, 2003
QuickTime Movie file
One cycle 30 minutes, in two parts
Programming: Chris Walters

Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
Meeting You Halfway, 2009

Anthony McCall
Meeting You Halfway, 2009
QuickTime Movie file
One cycle 15 minutes
Programming: Oleg Ivanov

Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
Studies for Vertical Works, 2009

Anthony McCall
Studies for Vertical Works, 2009
4 drawings and 1 pigment print
Each 38.5 × 30.9 cm (framed)
Each 15 1/8 x 12 1/8 inches (framed)

Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
You and I, Horizontal (II), 2006

Anthony McCall
You and I, Horizontal (II), 2006
QuickTime movie file. computer, digital projector, haze machine
33 minute cycle

Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
Leaving (with two-minute silence), 2009

Anthony McCall
Leaving (with two-minute silence), 2009
QuickTime Movie file, audio
One cycle 32 minutes, in two parts
Soundtrack produced in collaboration with David Grubbs
Programming: Oleg Ivanov

Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
Throes (II), 2011

Anthony McCall
Throes (II), 2011
QuickTime movie file, computer, digital projector, haze machine
15 minute cycle

Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
Smoke Screen VI (large), 2017

Anthony McCall
Smoke Screen VI (large), 2017
Gelatin silver print mounted on museum board and aluminum
155.89 × 114.52 cm
61 3/8 × 45 inches

Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall
Split Second (Mirror), 2018

Anthony McCall
Split Second (Mirror), 2018
QuickTime movie file, computer, digital projector, haze machine, mirror
16 minute cycle

Details
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Face to Face, 2013
Installation view, The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire, February 16–June 3, 2018
Photo: Lewis Ronald

Anthony McCall
Solid Light Works
Installation view, The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire, February 16–June 3, 2018
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Line Describing a Cone, 1973
16mm film, black-and-white, silent, 30-minute cycle

Anthony McCall
Line Describing a Cone, 1973
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Landscape for Fire, 1972
16mm transferred to DVD 2006, sound
07:00 min

Anthony McCall
Landscape for Fire, 1972
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Landscape for Fire: Score for Eternal Condition, 1973
Blue and red ink, pencil and offset lithographed photograph on graph paper
44.5 × 56.5 cm
17 1/2 × 22 1/4 inches

Anthony McCall
Landscape for Fire: Score for Eternal Condition, 1973
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Conical Solid, 1974
16mm film, black-and-white, silent, 10 minute cycle
16mm xenon projector, looper, haze machine

Anthony McCall
Conical Solid, 1974
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Doubling Back, 2003
QuickTime Movie file
One cycle 30 minutes, in two parts
Programming: Chris Walters

Anthony McCall
Doubling Back, 2003
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Meeting You Halfway, 2009
QuickTime Movie file
One cycle 15 minutes
Programming: Oleg Ivanov

Anthony McCall
Meeting You Halfway, 2009
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Studies for Vertical Works, 2009
4 drawings and 1 pigment print
Each 38.5 × 30.9 cm (framed)
Each 15 1/8 x 12 1/8 inches (framed)

Anthony McCall
Studies for Vertical Works, 2009
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
You and I, Horizontal (II), 2006
QuickTime movie file. computer, digital projector, haze machine
33 minute cycle

Anthony McCall
You and I, Horizontal (II), 2006
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Leaving (with two-minute silence), 2009
QuickTime Movie file, audio
One cycle 32 minutes, in two parts
Soundtrack produced in collaboration with David Grubbs
Programming: Oleg Ivanov

Anthony McCall
Leaving (with two-minute silence), 2009
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Throes (II), 2011
QuickTime movie file, computer, digital projector, haze machine
15 minute cycle

Anthony McCall
Throes (II), 2011
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Smoke Screen VI (large), 2017
Gelatin silver print mounted on museum board and aluminum
155.89 × 114.52 cm
61 3/8 × 45 inches

Anthony McCall
Smoke Screen VI (large), 2017
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Split Second (Mirror), 2018
QuickTime movie file, computer, digital projector, haze machine, mirror
16 minute cycle

Anthony McCall
Split Second (Mirror), 2018
Details
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Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers

Anthony McCall
1970s Solid-Light Works
November 22, 2013–January 25, 2014
Berlin

Internationally recognized for groundbreaking work that occupies a space between sculpture, cinema and drawing, Anthony McCall’s practice has influenced a generation of artists working with film and installation. The exhibition at Sprüth Magers Berlin offers an unprecedented occasion to see three of the artist’s seminal ‘solid-light’ works that were produced in the early 1970s in New York, including Four Projected Movements (1975).

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Anthony McCall
Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Early Performance Films
April 27–June 16, 2012
Berlin

The three films featured in this exhibition, Landscape for Fire, Landscape for White Squares and Earth Work, originally shot in 16mm, document a series of live, outdoor, sculptural performances. All three performances were made in collaboration with Exit, a British group of musicians and artists. The earliest film, Landscape for Fire, records a performance in which a group of participants ignited containers of petrol laid out in a grid pattern across the field. Their actions were meticulously organized according to ‘scores’, drawn up by the artist beforehand, also on display here in the exhibition

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Anthony McCall

Anthony McCall
Vertical Works
February 28–March 26, 2011
Sprüth Magers at Ambika P3, University of Westminster

Over the past five years McCall has explored solid-light works that are oriented vertically – projecting downwards from the ceiling onto the floor, forming 10-metre tall, conical ‘tents’ of light, with a base of about 4 metres. Here, the projected line-drawing on the floor is, quite literally, the footprint of the work, with the three-dimensional ‘body’ rising up from the floor and finally narrowing to a point at the lens of the projector, well-above one’s head. From the point-of-view of the observer, the vertical pieces create a profoundly different type of encounter. Four of these works, each of them showing in the UK for the first time, will be presented as a single installation in the Ambika P3 exhibition space.

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Press

Anthony McCall: ‘The sculptural aspect of a piece occurs only at the moment of projection’ 
Studio International, interview by Joe Lloyd, March 14, 2018

Anthony McCall and the Somaesthetics of Solid Light
Adam Art Gallery University of Wellington, text by Luke Smythe, 2010

Biography

Anthony McCall (*1946, St. Paul’s Cray) lives in New York City. Solo exhibitions include Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (2019), Pioneer Works, Brooklyn and The Hepworth Wakefield (both 2018), Nevada Museum of Art, Reno (2016), LAC Museo Cantonale d’Arte, Lugano (2015), Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam (2014), Deichtorhallen Hamburg; Les Abattoirs, Toulouse; Kunstmuseum St. Gallen and Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO (all 2013), Project Room, New York; Tate Modern, London and Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (all 2012), MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2011) and Serpentine Gallery, London (2007). Group shows include Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and Neon Foundation, Athens (all 2016), Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (both 2015), Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz (2014), Hayward Gallery, London (2013), The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles (2012); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2009) and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, (2001).

Education
1964–1968 Ravensbourne College of Art and Design, London
Awards, Grants and Fellowships
2018 Arts and Letters Award in Art, American Academy of Arts and Letters
2014 Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin
2008 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow
Public Collections
Auckland Art Gallery
Baltimore Museum of Art
Collection Lambert, Avignon
Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris
FRAC, Bretagne
FRAC, Ile-de-France
FRAC, Picardie
Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek e.V. / Arsenal Experimental, Berlin
Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Hall Art Foundation, Vermont
Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf
Les Abattoirs - Musée FRAC Occitanie Toulouse
Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.
Margulies Collection, Miami
Milwaukee Art Museum
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Musée d’Art Contemporain Rochechouart
Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona
Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg
Sammlung Goetz, Munich
Sammlung Verbund, Vienna
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Tate, London
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York