Object of the Month

Night and DayTitle: Night and Day
Artist: Sarah Sze (born 1969)
Nationality: Chinese-American
Date: 2003
Medium: Offset lithographs and screenprints
Credit: Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, purchase funds provided by Chris and William Robb, Hollis Clayson, Diane Dawson, Kay Deaux, Sally Dumas, Emily Forsgren, Susan Fuller, Steven Gavin and Cassie Spencer, Nancy and Nick Giampietro, Jean and Bob Guritz, Gail and Thomas Hodges, Constance and Thomas Hodson, James and Sari Klein, Judy Ledgerwood, Alicia Loffler and Julio Ottino, Nancy and Hugh Magill, Steffi Masur, Lois and Robert Moeller, Sarah Pritchard and Neil Blair, Sandra Riggs, Anne Rorimer, Rubens Family Foundation, Judith and David Saunders, Judy and Barry Siegel, Verneta Simon, Dorothy J. Speidel, Vincent and Hayley Tomkiewicz, Roberta and William Weinsheimer, Gloria Zieve and guests at the April 21, 2012, benefit. 2012.3a, 2012.3b.

Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, this spring the Block Museum acquired two monumental works on paper by Sarah Sze (Chinese-American, b. 1969), an artist best known for gallery-size intricate installations constructed from everyday objects. Sze’s diptych Nightand Day enhances the Block’s collection of prints by such sculptors as Claes Oldenburg, Alice Aycock, Alexander Calder, and Henry Moore.

Five years in the making, Night and Day explore the boundaries between two- and three-dimensional art. While distinctly works on paper, they possess the complexity and scope of a quintessential Sze sculpture. In a recent conversation with the Block Museum, Sze compared the creation of the two with the construction of her installations, saying, “Because printmaking is so process-oriented, and because you can tinker so much in a way that you can’t so much with drawing, the layers in the print are really almost like sculptural elements that can be moved and manipulated.”

As with the artist’s sculptures, Night and Day reveal themselves to the viewer over time, rewarding sustained examination with a sense of rapture. “When you scale it to a certain point where the scale tips,” says Sze, “as a viewer you can actually enter it. You can’t really see yourself in relationship to it as an object because it kind of encompasses you.”

And it is true: to view Night and Day are as disorienting and enchanting as galaxy gazing through a constantly shifting telescope or watching nano-scale machinations through a roving microscope.

—Frankie DiCiaccio (School of Communication, 2012)

Night and Day were published and printed by the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies, Columbia University, New York. Images courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.