David Zwirner is pleased to present Seascape (2017), a new film by James Welling at its 519 West 19th Street location. This will be the United States premiere of the work and the artist's seventh solo presentation at the gallery.
In Seascape, Welling combines his family's past with the histories of cinema, photography, and painting. The film is an homage to the artist’s grandfather, William C. Welling, who studied with the American Impressionist painter Wilson Irvine and corresponded with the seascape painter Frederick Waugh (1861-1940). Using the recently introduced Cine-Kodak Model B 16mm camera, Welling's grandfather shot the black-and-white reversal footage in the early 1930’s in Ogunquit, Maine, at the suggestion of Waugh. Over the course of two days, he filmed the Atlantic Ocean at Perkins Cove—which was a celebrated site for seascape painters—capturing images of the rocky coast, which he subsequently used as a basis for a 26 x 32 inch oil painting. For Seascape, Welling took digital color samples of his grandfather's painting and, working with three animators, colorized the original footage using After Effects and Photoshop. The audio component is a contribution from the artist’s brother, William B. Welling, a musician. The sound, which encompasses a slow, continuous progression of three chords with Foley effects, uses a 1940 "Gloria" accordion, as well as two drums—a 1826 Eli Brown replica snare drum made in 1990 with 32 beach pebbles placed on the drum head and a Remo "Ocean Drum." As a collaborative work between the artist, his grandfather, and his brother, the film, like Welling’s photographic series "Diary/Landscape" (1977-1986) and "Wyeth" (2010-2015), extends the artist's interest in incorporating autobiographical elements into his work.
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"The film provides an ingratiating encounter with the storied, rock-festooned Maine coast . . . America "grew up" with landscape painting of the Romantic era, beginning effectively with Thomas Cole, and, continuing in the dramatic seascape narratives of the Maine coast by Winslow Homer. Welling’s film adds yet another iteration of aesthetic and method to this tradition."—Donald Lindeman, in a review of the exhibition for Riot Material
James Welling: Metamorphosis is a publication accompanying the artist’s first European survey exhibition, on view at Kunstforum Wien in Vienna through July 16. The exhibition was first presented at Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.) in Ghent, Belgium, in January 2017. The publication includes texts by Heike Eipeldauer and Martin Germann and an interview with Welling by Hal Foster. Published by S.M.A.K. | Prestel