CHRYSSA Times Square: Neon #1 ca. 1980 - x +
Chry1980neo1

CN: Chry1980neo1

MT: silkscreen print on paper (70x65 / F:104x96x3)

TX: inscribed with pencil at lower left <57/100>, signed at right <Chryssa>

DN: Mr. Eric Efstathiou - 2005

LC: ACG - Office of Director of Operations

CM: Chryssa has remarked: "America is very stimulating, intoxicating for me. Believe me when I say there is wisdom, indeed, in the flashing lights of Times Square. The vulgarity of America as seen in the lights of Times Square is poetic, extremely poetic. A foreigner can observe this, describe this. American feel it." [Chryssa 1968] Chryssa saw an unlimited potential for self-expression in the visual stimuli of the urban environment which surrounded her in Times Square or China Town. Inspired by these external stimuli and her own refined European sense of style, she created art that is very American in its technical audacity and heroic in scale. Upon arriving in New York City in 1954 Chryssa became immediately fascinated by the urban calligraphy and the bombardement of the visual senses that this metropolis provided. Her own Greek heritage surfaced when she described her fascination with Times Square and all its letters, signs and lights: "In Times Square, the sky is like the gold of Byzantine mosaics or icons. It comes and goes in the foreground instead of remaining in the background." [Chryssa 1968]. Chryssa's interest in the symbols of communication of our times, as they appear in the city proper and the print media became manifest in a variety of forms - such as drawing, painting and sculpture.

Chryssa's Times Square silkscreen prints are neon letter forms designed after The Gates of Times Square, a monumental assemblage that Chryssa created in her Brooklyn studio between 1964-1966. The Gates of Times Square served as "homage to the living American culture of advertising and mass communications" (Pierre Restany 1977, p.45). Her compositions are conceived according to a more or less similar modular structure, consisting of the shape of particular letters as elements placed perpendicular. These elements cast their shadow on the background but appear to hover in front, so that the symbol they collectively form seems to be suspended in space. The result of her investigation are icons of modern civilization and objects of contemplation. Chryssa's achievement is to identify the fertile dimension in urban vulgarity and to express it transformed as visual poetry. Banal symbols are transformed into art that is meditative in nature. In 1968, writing about the purpose of her work, Chryssa stated in her journal: "Symbols of communication are made to reach out and communicate. In my work it all has to do with me trying to communicate with myself. The created art object is, for me, a way to reality." [Chryssa 1968]

[Megakles Rogakos 15/12/2005]

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