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Vivian Greven
<3, 2018
Oil on wood panel
16 x 9 x 1 inches

Not currently on view

About the Work

Vivian Greven is interested in how Ancient Greek ideas and aesthetics endure across time and cultures. Her artwork mingles various notions of bodies, being and representation, by merging concepts of classical antiquity with pop art and digital culture. Greven’s <3 is one of a series of paintings on bust-shaped MDF panels. It riffs off the highly stylized figures and color palettes of the great Renaissance and High Mannerist artists who revered Classical antiquity. Judit II, a hand-cut silkscreen, blends historical depictions of Venus with those of Judith, the brash and seductive biblical woman who asks God to make her a good liar. Both works suggest the ideal beauty and conflation of love and lust common to Classical and successive eras. Greven also infuses into them contemporary symbols like emojis and other subtle references to human intimacy and communication methods common throughout the history of art. Greven’s compositions also play with line, shape, and surface to show how perfection was and is contrived by the artist’s hand and the cutting-edge tools of their time. Ancient Greek artists, for example, chiseled marble and stone to achieve proportions rarely seen in real life. Renaissance and neo-Classical artists painstakingly whitened and smoothed skin with their fine brushes. Likewise, Greven relies on Photoshop methods—with names plucked from art history like ‘marble effect’ and ‘chiaroscuro’—to advance plan her paintings. The many art historical and contemporary historical nestlings of the artist’s work ultimately dissolve the hierarchies between original, reproduction and simulation.