October 26 – November 21, 2004
French artist Georges Rousse’s photographs of his architectural “interventions” do not reveal the complex interaction of perspective, illusion, and spatial relations he uses to create the images.
The Williams Center gallery served as a temporary studio for Rousse. Over a five-day period, working with paint, simple building materials, and the laws of perspective, he created an illusion that coalesced into a single vantage point as seen through the wide angle, 65 mm, lens of his 4×5 camera. Moving from that vantage point the illusion disappears, but the spatial reasoning and technical skill that created it becomes apparent. A gallery visitor could partially view the illusion by standing at the same point and covering one eye. Most of the line segments joined to create continuous lines. However, it was only through the lens that the top, bottom, and sides of the image became straight lines, 90° corners were created, and the “optical puzzle” could be seen as Rousse conceived it.
In preparation for the Lafayette project, the artist worked with photographs of the gallery to develop a series of ideas. These studies included writing the word dream, creating a drawing in space, and incorporating an architectural setting into either. Upon his arrival on October 12, Rousse selected a project that started with the construction of architectural elements and floor that would serve as a background for a gestural drawing. The perimeter of the installation and the angles of the columns were established by Rousse as he looked through the camera. Working with the camera was essential in order to take into account the effect of lens distortion on the final photograph. After construction was completed, students worked for two days to paint the black lines that created the illusion of a drawing in space.
For Rousse, the installations are always temporary; all that endures are the final photographs, which are often exhibited far from the manipulated site. By leaving the Lafayette project intact during the exhibition period, visitors could compare it to the photograph and observe the interaction of camera and installation.
Born in Paris in 1947, Rousse received formal training in architecture and advertising. He began to work with installation art and photography in the 1970s. Since then, he has produced a body of work that fuses photography, painting, drawing, and architecture into one challenging aesthetic experience.
In 1984 Rousse began to make interventions—complex photographic works transforming architectural structures that were to be demolished—to challenge conventional ways of seeing. He has completed commissions throughout the world, and his work is widely exhibited. His many awards include Villa Medici Fellowship in New York (1983); Villa Medici Fellowship in Rome (1985-87); Prix de Rome (1986); Drawing Prize at Montrouge (1989); Romain Rolland Fellowship in Calcutta (1992); and Grand Prize of La Bibliothèque Nationale de France (1993).
Georges Rousse was a pleasure to work with on this project. Many thanks to those who worked on the installation including students Katie Donnelly’06, Stacey L. Ehrlich ’05, Charles Felix ’08, Johanna Garschina ’05, Jennifer Graye 05, Marly Hammer ’05, Lai Huang ’07, Dora Johnson ’08, QiJie Lao ’08, Keming Liang ’08, Vanessa Araujo-Lopera ’08, Irina Mladenova ’08, Lindsay O’Connor ’08, Jinjin Qian ’08, and Mrittika Shamsuddin ’08; Mario Cozzubbo, Ron Morgan, and Mike Breiner of the College’s plant operations; and Easton artist Koenraad von Linden Tol, who assisted with the installation.
Rousse’s photographs were loaned courtesy of the artist and Robert Mann Gallery, New York.