Gray Column and Column Gray
Now that I have works on display by DeWain Valentine in our current exhibition, Translucence, I have been thinking a lot about another show of his – From Start to Finish: DeWain Valentine’s Gray Column – on display at the Getty from late 2011 through early 2012. Organized by the Getty Conservation Institute as part of the Pacific Standard Time Initiative, From Start to Finish told the story of the Gray Column’s production, original installation, and subsequent conservation.
This monumental work, cast in polyester resin, was commissioned by Baxter Travenol Laboratories as part of a two-piece installation of columns, each 12 feet high, for their Illinois headquarters. However, a change in architectural plans made it necessary for the works to be displayed horizontally, as Two Gray Walls. It wasn’t until the Getty’s 2011-2012 exhibition that the artwork was installed vertically, as Valentine had always intended.
A related work by Valentine, called Column Gray, 1972-75, is on view at the gallery now. After noting the strong relationship between Column Gray and the larger Gray Column, I did a little research into the background of the two pieces and found out that Column Gray is actually a color study for its large-scale twin. Before Valentine began work on the full-size Gray Columns, he produced a series of maquettes, in order to experiment with various levels of pigmentation and opacity. Standing at just under two feet tall, Column Gray is one of these maquettes, demonstrating a slightly darker color palette and a more opaque base.