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DEUS EX MACHINA from the CHRIST SERIES

© Conner Family Trust, San Francisco. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.

DEUS EX MACHINA from the CHRIST SERIES

Artist: Bruce Conner (Born in McPherson, Kansas, 1933-2008)
Culture: American
Date: 1987
Medium: Print with hand coloring on paper, mounted on board
Dimensions:
Image: 6 3/4 x 5 13/16 inches (17.1 x 14.8 cm)
Sheet: 6 7/8 x 6 inches (17.5 x 15.2 cm)
Mount: 8 x 7 inches (20.3 x 17.8 cm)
Classification: Print
Credit Line: Gift of Kristine Stiles
Label Text:Bruce Conner worked on collage throughout his artistic career, piecing together fragments of printed images, many of which included wood engravings. In most instances, Conner’s precision is so exact that it is often difficult to discern the divisions between the parts. DEUS EX MACHINA belongs to a series of engravings illustrating scenes from the life of Christ. This work depicts Christ performing a miracle, although Conner has carefully added machine parts such as the two buttons that emerge from Christ’s back and read “stop” and “start.” A huge hand, presumed to be that of God, presses the start button. With this motif, Conner alludes to divine intervention, recasting classical religious imagery into a contemporary image of Christ as a robotic extension of God, a potentially blasphemous idea. If seen as a meditation on determinism and free will, the work also reinforces Conner’s concern with individuality and identity. EH



Provenance: From the artist to Kristine Stiles, Durham, North Carolina; loan 2012 to Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Object number: 2018.18.27