Sean Talley

January 26, 2014, 7:08pm

The Relativity of Black: Q&A with Sean Talley

Long time critic David Levi Strauss proposes that art criticism “involves making finer and finer distinctions among like things.” Sean Talley’s most recent body of work makes a similar kind of assertion with regard to color. For every black surface in Talley’s work there’s a blacker still, an ever finer distinction among like things. And while black may sometimes be considered the absence of color, in Talley’s case it can remind us that chromatic variations result from surface and material properties. As Ad Reinhardt explained, there’s “a black which is old and a black which is fresh. Lustrous (brilliant) black and matte black, black in sunlight and black in shadow.” Black, it turns out, is a multiplicity of colors.


Sean Talley | AIILCI, 2013. Graphite powder on paper. 14 x 11 inches

Last week I started writing about the relativity of black -- black can mean everything at once or nothing at all. I recently had a chance to speak with three diverse artists about the way they use black in their work. Last week I talked to Vincent Como about his monochrome paintings and their relationship to modernism. Today we post my conversation with Oakland-based artist Sean Talley. Next week you’ll be able to read my conversation with Baltimore-based Laura Judkis. My interview with Sean after the jump -- Matt Smith Chavez, San Francisco Contributor

Listed under: Interview

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