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Containment 3 (Dendroid)

Roxy Paine


Medium: stainless steel
Dimensions: 11' x 8' x 8'

Paine was born in 1966 in New York.  Since 1989, his work has been internationally exhibited and is included in collections such as San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Calif., Museum of Modern Art, N.Y., the Whitney Museum of American Art, N.Y., LAMOCA, the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

In 1990, Paine began showing his work in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where he cofounded the artist collective Brand Name Damages.  In the early 90's, he quickly established a unique vision with works such as Where I'm at, Dinner of the Dictators and Placard Flinger.  The first of his machines, Viscous Pult in 1990, consisted of three mechanically rotating paintbrushes, each flinging ketchup, white paint and motor oil onto the gallery's storefront glass. This piece significantly established Paine's early interest in the collisions between industry and nature, control and chaos.  

His later art-making machines, Paint Dipper, PMU (Painting Manufacture Unit) and Erosion Machine juxtapose two conflicting impulses: the constraints imposed by data and code systems against the randomness of nature and chance. Paine's "factories" resemble utilitarian models of production, but their results become questionable creations full of inefficiencies and nonidentical works. Tan Lin writes, "The blissed out or bored machine, who can tell, makes anywhere from between 80 and 200 passes-depending on the size of the canvas and thickness of the paint surface desired. Time seems to stand still...Paine makes machines addicted to making paintings, to the labor of painting. He also makes hallucinatory, exquisitely unperturbed and minutely controlled replicas of mushrooms and poppies out of polymer." Paine's replicas - from a garden choked by weeds to a poppy flower oozing of harvest - are about transcribing an ordinary object into a psychoactive event. The banal and the hallucinatory are conceptually intertwined and often indecipherable in Paine's work.

The simultaneity of industry and nature is further seen in Paine's stainless steel Dendroids.  The Dendroids, defined as anything branching or dendritic in structure, began as an early tree-like form in Bluff, exhibited in Central Park's Whitney Biennial 2002, and evolved into the groundbreaking, neural and synaptic systems of Maelstrom exhibited on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 2009. Paine's interest in stainless steel derives from its institutional use in pharmaceutical, food, gas and oil pipeline industries. The Dendroids began as a study of growth patterns in nature and developed into Paine's recent interest in structures of the human brain and nervous system.

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