Category Archives: Minimalism Elite

2014 NYFA Grant Application for Sculpture/ A Theory of Forms and Ideas and Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled

I just finished my application for the NYFA grant in sculpture. I decided to show 4 pieces from A Theory of Forms and Ideas and all 4 pieces from Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled because they seem to be the most similar. I ended up making a fourth sculpture in Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled to finish the series so that I would have enough for the application. I also ended up re-shooting Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled with a new camera (Canon G15) because the last camera got an annoying scratch on the lens and I needed to shoot them from a farther distance to avoid lens distortion; I found that the lens distortion ruined the effect that I was looking for. Somehow I couldn’t get the same differentiation of shadows with  Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled as I did with A Theory of Forms and Ideas and I’m not sure if that’s because of the camera or because I’m essentially shooting negative space/surfaces instead of positive space/surfaces.

Here’s the statement that I came up with for both series. I had to keep it under 200 words so I cut a bunch of things out. Below that are the 8 slides that I submitted.

My artwork utilizes small-scale models that are simultaneously abstract and reminiscent of 1960s minimalist sculptures. The sculptures inherently create an awareness of scale that shifts the viewer’s relationship away from traditional, monumentalized work and toward a position of enhanced intimacy.

The sculpture series A Theory of Forms and Ideas takes its name from Plato’s concept of idealized form which postulates the existence of a “reality” inhabited by the ideal or archetypal forms of all things and concepts. This series uses fragments of old black and white corporate logos as a basis for creating objects in three dimensions. Each sculpture was first rendered in pencil using traditional three dimensional drawings techniques before being cut out, glued, sanded, primed and painted with flat black spray paint, creating a refined and dullish surface.

Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled references Marcel Duchamp and Vitaly Haberstadt’s book of the same name, which explores and explains various effective strategies for the endgame of chess. In my sculpture series, negative space and isometric perspective are used to deceive the eye into seeing positive forms, further enhancing the perception of form as a malleable and therefore untrustworthy way of truly seeing objects.

Higbee01 Higbee02 Higbee03 Higbee04 Higbee05 Higbee06 Higbee07 Higbee08

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Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled Sculptures

Here are the 3 finished Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled sculptures. I used the same flat black paint to finish them as I did for the A Theory of Forms and Ideas sculpture series. I left the back sides unpainted because I only needed the fronts to be finished to create the illusion of a finished sculpture in the final photos. I did the same thing when I created The Problem of a Compounded Abstraction (The Field) by only finishing the front two sides and the tops of the back 2 pieces to create the illusion that the whole sculpture was finished when in fact the sides that can’t be seen in the photo are unfinished. By doing this though I have created a dilemma since I now feel obligated to show the photos of the unfinished backs as part of the final product. In a way I have to decide if this is a dialogue that I want to be having or if it only complicates the narrative of my sculptures. I’ll probably edit out the photos of the backs but I like the idea that it further enhances the inherent illusion of photographing three dimensional objects.

Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled is a book written by Marcel Duchamp and the German chess master Vital Halberstadt which aims to reconcile the alleged differences between positions of opposition and the concept of sister squares in chess.

“Duchamp and his coauthor set about to prove that theories of opposition and theories of ‘sister squares’ are actually one and the same, and that they represent only variant methods by which to solve essentially the same endgame situation.”

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Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled Sculptures in Progress

Here is a third sculpture for the series Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled.

Dead Reckoning 3

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Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled Linoleum Prints

Here are some linoleum cuts that I made. I was originally going to cut them so that the lines were black but figured that this way would be a lot easier. I’m not sure about the results yet; they’re a little cartoony. I had to make the straight lines by hand because the metal ruler wouldn’t work with the cutting tool. I made a third one but I’m not happy with the way it looks so I might cut it again.

Lino Print 1 Lino Print 2

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Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled Sculptures in Progress

Here are some new sculptures that I’ve been working on called Opposition and Sister Squares are Reconciled. The series is based on the isometric drawing series that I made for A Theory of Forms and Ideas; I isolated sections of the original drawings and imagined them as if their perspective was reversed so instead of representing positive space they would be representing negative space. I was originally thinking about making them out of black construction paper but decided to use 1/8″ bass wood instead. They will eventually be spray painted black like the A Theory of Forms and Ideas Sculptures. It’s a bit too cold out right now to be spray painting so I may not get around to doing it for a while. The impetus for working on this series was  so that I could apply for the NYFA grant again this year in February but I need a variety of sculptures that are the same yet different. You’re supposed to send in 8 slides so I figured I could show 2 slides from each series; I still need to come up with a fourth series that is similar yet different.

The grid that these are sitting on is a new pixel painting that I’m going to start working on.

Dead Reckoning 1 Dead Reckoning 21

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Minimalism Elite Website

I’ve been working on the new Minimalism Elite website. I ended up building it twice because I  wanted to change the font and also because I put rounded corners on my images and then decided that I didn’t want them like that. I kept the formatting and the look simple in order to  mimic what I thought a well designed “organization” would use as a website. I blurred all of the text because it was too crisp and I wanted it to look less digital and a little more analogue. I ended up numbering all of the images chronologically in accordance to when they were done; this is something that Tony Wilson used to do for Factory Records.  He even had a number for his casket (FAC 501).

Here’s a link to the website and below are 2 screenshots from the website.

Minimalism Elite Sample PageMinimalism Elite Sample Page 2

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Burning From the Inside

Burning From the Inside is another painting that I made in the winter of 2011 and is 12″x48″ and is acrylic on canvas over a wood panel. It gets it’s name from a Bauhaus (the band) song and is also the name of their last album. The painting was made with simple shades of grey. The innermost vertical row is white and the outside is #3 Golden Grey. The shades are, from outside in on each side, #3,#4,#5,#6,#7,#8 and white. Starting from the inside, each vertical row outwards is 1.5 times the size of the row before it. The narrow vertical black lines are each .25″ inches thick and act as a border between shades. The result is an optical illusion, causing the painting to pulsate and wave.

Here are the lyrics for the song.

Running without aim
Through the razor weeds
That only reach my knees
And when I’m lying in the gray sleep
I don’t know how to walk the boards
I open my eyes and look at the floor
And now I don’t see you anymore

There is no choice
We make a point
To counteract a threatening hand
Close my hold
Let’s be near, let’s be near the atmosphere

Running without aim
Through the razor weeds
That only reach my knees
And when I’m lying in the gray sleep
I don’t know how to walk the boards
I open my eyes and look at the floor
And now I don’t see you anymore

Any more
Any more
Any more

Burning From the Inside by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

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Filed under Future Living Projects, Minimalism Elite, Painting