Reception: Friday, September 13, 5-8pm

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DOCUMENT is pleased to present Supports/Surfaces: Objects of Knowledge, which features historical and recent work by Louis Cane, Noël Dolla and Claude Viallat. These three artists were members of Supports/Surfaces, a shifting group of some twelve French painters—André-Pierre Arnal, Vincent Bioulés, Cane, Marc Devade, Daniel Dezeuze, Dolla, Toni Grand, Bernard Pagés, Jean-Pierre Pincemin, Patrick Saytour, André Valensi and Viallat—who began collaborating and showing together in 1966. Supports/Surfaces: Objects of Knowledge will revisit Cane, Dolla and Viallat’s past work, while charting the evolution of their practices up through the present day.

 The majority of Supports/Surfaces artists hailed from the South of France, from cities such as Montpellier, Nîmes and Nice, which lent the group an outsider status relative to Paris. Several of them showed together in Impact 1 at Musée de Céret in 1966, the first of a series of foundational exhibitions curated by Viallat and poet and critic Jacques Lepage. This show included key influences on Supports/Surfaces such as Arman and Ben Vautier, representatives of Nouveau Réalisme’s interest in found objects and the street, and Daniel Buren, who would devise a strict painting system with the BMPT group one year later. Viallat taught at Nice’s Ecole des Arts Décoratifs between 1964 and 1968, and pioneered Supports/Surfaces’ process-driven, anti-compositional strategies. In 1966, he arrived at a signature technique, repeating a softened rectangular form, via stencil, into gridded patterns that could extend over the entirety of a painterly surface, as exemplified in 1970/053, 1970, on view in this show. Here the artist’s use of black carbonyl leaks oil beyond the form delimited by the stencil, making it doubly “soft” as a contour. Viallat’s reinvention of the modernist “allover” technique obviates the frame and stretcher in favor of loose canvases that can be draped onto any site or hung from the ceiling in gallery space, resulting in radically mobile paintings. He also tied lengths of painted rope into configurations of knots, as in 1972/C23, 1972. The rope works are exercises in form: 1972/C23 alternates between different sections of blue and red in different hues, punctuated by knots. Yet as the artist has acknowledged, they also allude to maritime labor. In 1969, his Red Elastic Net with Blue Knots was shown on a beach in Maguelone, a fishing village not far from Montpellier. 

Viallat’s work embodies Supports/Surfaces’ animating tension between the systematic interrogation of painting’s essential components, on the one hand, and a radical imbrication of the work into the world, on the other. Dolla organized bands of color and polka dots on strips of thin muslin fabric and hung them from the ceiling in works like Tarlatane, 1970. It is as if the series liberates Barnett Newman’s “zips” from the constraints of the frame and stretcher. He also made a point of painting on everyday materials such as handkerchiefs and dishtowels. In Supports/Surfaces, the found object is never presented on its own, as in the Duchampian readymade. Rather, it substitutes for a constituent, functional element, becoming surface, support or both at once. Painted in acrylic on a dishtowel, Dolla’s Torchon, 1971, delicately frames three black polka dots with vertical red lines. On either side of this central composition, at the edges of the fabric, are arrays of other dots, cascading vertically. This experimentation extended to modes of display. In 1969, Lepage curated Coaraze ’69, in a village some 25 miles inland from Nice; works were displayed in and around the town, in public space. Between June and August 1970, Viallat and Lepage organized Intérieur/Extérieur, a series of ephemeral, outdoor installations on France’s Mediterranean coast. The artists designated these settings as “neutral,” beyond the reach of institutions. In keeping with their anti-authorial stance, works were not attributed to individuals.

The group’s name dates to its first show in Paris, Support-Surface, curated in 1970 by Pierre Gaudibert and Viallat for ARC 1, sponsored by the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Supports/Surfaces artists based in Paris, including Cane and Devade, subsequently charted the group’s contentious theoretical direction through connections to the poststructuralist journal Tel Quel. Louis Althusser was a guiding light, albeit as refashioned by the art critic Marcelin Pleynet in his essay “Peinture et réalité.” Althusser’s idea that philosophy produces its own “objects of knowledge” was applied to an indeterminate painting practice that “proposes nothing that it is not prepared to revise or efface; it no longer proposes pictures or sculptures, but instead a type of activity that only recognizes itself in its productive, dialectical process.” Cane’s own Toiles Découpées (Cut Canvases) open out into the surrounding space from their positions on the wall, aiming for simultaneous absorption and materiality. This is palpable in the multihued Toile Découpée, 1970, that accompanies this exhibition. The canvas has clearly been cut open to reveal the wall beneath the work, yet at some distance the eye reorganizes an expanded pictorial composition that incorporates the wall as a white or off-white element. Cane would go on to found the programmatic journal Peintures: cahiers théoriques with Dezeuze, Devade and Bioulès, one of the first acts of which was to expel Viallat from the group in 1971, presaging Supports/Surfaces’ dissolution later that year. Yet this Maoist turn was only ever one side of the group, alongside its equally May ’68-inspired, utopian dimensions. Following another voice in its ear, that of Jacques Derrida, we might say that Supports/Surfaces differed from itself. The artists would reunite for exhibitions in 1974, 1991, and increasingly in recent years.






Sterling Lawrence

Sterling Lawrence (1980, OR,) currently lives and works in Chicago where he received a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Sterling has had solo exhibitions with Devening Projects (2013), Chicago; Tony Wight Gallery (2011), Chicago; and has been included in group exhibitions at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, New York (2019); DePaul Art Museum (2017), Illinois State Museum (2017), Et al., San Francisco (2016); Scotty Enterprises, Berlin; Soloway, NY (2014); Columbia College, Chicago; Devening Projects, Chicago; and New Capital via Forever and Always, Chicago. Selected Projects include OVERIDE / a billboard project with Expo Chicago (2016); Edition works for The Society for Contemporary Art Gala (2014)

Sterling Lawrence, Stretched Witness, 2019, Aluminum and acrylic paint, 24h x 18 1/2w x 1d in

Sterling Lawrence, Palms Down, 2019, Aluminum and acrylic paint, 24 1/2h x 18w x 2d in

Sterling Lawrence, Shadow Briefs and Hook, 2019, Aluminum and acrylic paint, 24 1/2h x 22 1/2w x 1 1/2d in

Sterling Lawrence, Spatial Negative, 2019, Aluminum and acrylic paint, 24h x 17 1/2w x 1 1/2d in

Sterling Lawrence, Gardens Gate, 2019, Aluminum and acrylic paint, 24 1/2h x 18 1/4w x 1d in

Sterling Lawrence, Folded Attention, 2019, Aluminum and acrylic paint, 24h x 18 1/2w x 2 3/4d in

Sterling Lawrence, Chair, 2018, Epoxy and wood, 37h x 36w x 38d in

Sterling Lawrence, Mirror & Groove left & Groove and Mirror Right, 2018, Aluminum, acrylic two way mirror, natural gum rubber, 36h x 48w x 2d in

Sterling Lawrence, Field Pairing, 2018, Urethane rubber, formica, dibond, 48h x 36w x 6d in

Sterling Lawrence, Sight Lines, 2018, Aluminum and acrylic paint, 48h x 37w x 2d in

Sterling Lawrence, Tracing Idioms Contour, 2018, Natural hair, urethane rubber, cups, mirror, Two 41x72 inches casted urethane blankets and one 5’10” 165 pound urethane body

Sterling Lawrence, Tracing Idioms Contour, 2018, Natural hair, urethane rubber, cups, mirror, Two 41x72 inches casted urethane blankets and one 5’10” 165 pound urethane body (detail)

Sterling Lawrence, Pastoral Banquet, 2018, Urethane rubber, Formica, mirror, Dibond, acrylic and aluminum, 80h x 48w x 1/2d in

Slouching towards description, Wood, paint, inkjet print on back lit film 25 x 19 x 31 in, 2017

Checkered history, Aluminum, frosted acrylic, archival inkjet print, polymer 24 x 17 x 27 in, 2017

Side table, 2016 Aluminum and plexiglas 34 x 36 x 12 in

Cone, 2016 wood and formica 9 1/4 x 18 1/4 x 8 1/4 in

Cabinet, 2016 Aluminum and plexiglas 36 1/4 x 45 1/2 x 2 in

Sterling Lawrence, .25 .50, 2018

Screen, 2016 Aluminum, plexiglas and hooks 58 x 33 x 10 in

Temporary Wall Structure 1, 2, 3, 4, 2016 Archival pigment print on backlit film mounted to acrylic 96 x 35 in (each panel)

Tone / Half Tone 1 and Tone / Half Tone 2, 2016 Aluminum, acrylic paint and fabric 36 x 30 x 2 1/2 in (each)

Fielding Elbow, 2016 Polyurethane and aluminum 35 x 46 x 3 1/2 in

Fielding Elbow, 2016 (detail) Polyurethane and aluminum 35 x 46 x 3 1/2 in

Casting Elbows 1.3, 2015 Polyurethane and aluminum, 12 x 12 x 4 in

Rack 03, 2015, Rubber, Aluminum and Hardware, 70 x 17 x 25 1/2 in

Sterling Lawrence, "Rack 03" (detail shot), 2015, Rubber, aluminum and hardware, 70 x 17 x 25 1/2 in

Strap illustration version one, 2015 Rubber, hardware and aluminum pipe, 58 x 60 in

Strap illustration version one, 2015 Rubber, hardware and aluminum pipe, 58 x 60 in

Strap illustration version one, 2015 (detail)

Strap illustration version two, 2015 Rubber, hardware and aluminum pipe, 60 x 100 in

fACED lunch tray version 2, 2016 Formed plastic and rubber stoppers, 19 x 11 in

Impression caption fig.1, 2016 Inkjet print on formed plastic 22 1/2 x 14 in

Impression caption fig. 1, Inkjet print on formed plastic, 19 x 11 in. 2016

Sterling Lawrence, Cover for a Preface 1, 2016

Sterling Lawrence, Cover for a Preface 2, 2016

Sterling Lawrence, Proposed Service Window as a Mirror of its Former Self 1.2, 2016

Sterling Lawrence, Proposed Service Window as a Mirror of its Former Self 1, 2016

Sterling Lawrence, Residual Gaze of a Once Ritual Glow, Gradient 145, 2016

Afterimage, Vol. 46, Number 2

Exhibition Review: Andrew Norman Wilson: Kodak

Andrew Norman Wilson: Kodak. Document. Chicago, Illinois: January 11–February 23, 2019| By Liz Park

Image 1. Still from Kodak (2018) by Andrew Norman Wilson; © 2018 Andrew Norman Wilson; courtesy the artist and DOCUMENT.


Andrew Norman Wilson’s thirty-two-minute video Kodak (2018) was the beating heart of his eponymous exhibition at DOCUMENT in Chicago. A series of prints that take inspiration from various Kodak products hung in an adjacent gallery while a stack of giveaway posters—of the company’s first digital camera from 1973 printed on recto and a text by Nick Irvin on verso—prepared those who entered a dark, curtained gallery. Irvin’s text introduced the video’s protagonist Rich as a mentally unstable former Kodak employee who became blind as a result of a workplace accident. These details emerge slowly, however, and in short bursts, like flickers of images that stitch together the stories of the character Rich and Kodak’s legendary founder George Eastman [Image 1].

“Your time is up,” alerts the high-pitched and tinny voice of a woman, beginning a narrative that is driven primarily by sound rather than images. A long minute passes with only darkness to accompany her increasingly aggravated chastising, dramatically peaking with “You have to stop now!” The first discernable image finally surfaces—a portrait of a bespectacled Eastman. A shaky voice that stands in for Eastman implores, “What is a photograph?” He answers himself: “. . . a dream, a reminder of how little you can actually capture.” Responsible for popularizing photography through consumer-grade technology, Eastman, as recorded in history and presented in this well-researched video, successfully tapped into the consumer’s desire to hold onto the fleeting moments of their mortal lives. Spiked with nostalgia, Eastman’s steady ruminations on life, photographic processes, and his business empire provide […]

Read the complete article here.

Aron Gent
Sibylle Friche
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DOCUMENT is a commercial gallery located in Chicago that specializes in contemporary photography, film and media based art. The gallery has organized more than 40 solo exhibitions since its opening in 2011 and actively promotes the work of emerging national and international artists. Operating conjointly as a professional printmaking studio, DOCUMENT facilitates the production of works by artists from Chicago and the US. At this time we do not accept unsolicited submissions.