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Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

© Paul Pfeiffer. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

Artist: Paul Pfeiffer (Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, 1966)
Culture: American
Date: 2001
Medium: Metal armatures, miniature video projectors, 3 DVDs with continuous digital video loops
Each arm: 18 1/2 x 5 x 16 inches (47 x 12.7 x 40.6 cm)
weight: approx. 40 to 50 lb. (18.1 to 22.7 kg)
Classification: Installation
Credit Line: Gift of Blake Byrne (A.B.’57), in honor of Raymond D. Nasher
Label Text:Open This End:
Paul Pfeiffer often uses footage from sports events or famous movies and alters the material to disrupt myths of American culture. Here, the artist has digitally modified footage of a basketball game by removing the figures of the star athletes. He leaves the viewer only the play of the basketball moving around the court and the erupting excitement of fans that fill the background. The video clips are shown simultaneously and repeated as loops. Focusing attention on the absent players and their infinitely repeated bodily gestures, Pfeiffer eliminates all narrative and context.

The work is titled after a c.1944 painting by British artist Francis Bacon and invites the viewer to speculate on the possible relationship of the athletes' dynamic movements to Bacon’s writhing, expressionist figures, as well as to the subject matter of traditional religious paintings. Through the implication of the ghostly athletes’ actions and expressions, Pfeiffer suggests the possibility of frenzied, even ecstatic abandon.

Object number: 2017.4.26