Julie Saul Gallery is pleased to announce Woven, its fourth solo exhibition of work by Tanya
Marcuse. Woven is conceptually linked to Marcuse’s Fallen, shown at the gallery in 2014, but takes
that project’s dense arrangements of flora and fauna to a newly immersive scale with color prints as
large as 5 x 10 feet. These exquisitely detailed photographs, each the product of weeks of collection
and composition, are perched between the natural and the fantastic, evoking a Boschian world of
allegory and fable.
The ancient Greeks imagined the machinery of fate as three women, weaving the lives of human
and gods into an enormous tapestry, killing or giving life by snipping or knotting a thread. Through
the medium of photography, Marcuse imagines herself introducing time and thus mortality into the
lush flora and fauna that make up the millefleurs backgrounds of medieval hunting and falconry
tapestries. “During the process of composition -- of collecting, arranging, burning, painting, and
transplanting -- there is change,” Marcuse writes. “Flowers wither, spiders build webs, new shoots
emerge, and corpses decay.” Influenced both by the Dutch vanitas tradition and the allover paintings
of Jackson Pollock, the photographs can be experienced as intricately detailed still lives when
viewed from up close, but also become dynamic, more abstract compositions from further away.
Although Marcuse composes all her pieces on the same wooden structure, each incorporates a distinct
set of conceptual and visual ideas. Some are densely packed with both living and rotting plant and
animal life, while others are more open, sprinkled with brightly colored flowers or verdant moss.
What is common to all, however, is a sense of opulence verging on excess, a plenty verging on
plunder. In these elaborate artificial tableaux, the inexorable movements of nature are shown forth
and growth and decay, beauty and terror, life and death are woven together.
Tanya Marcuse was born in NYC in 1964. She studied Art History and Studio Art at Oberlin and
earned her MFA in Photography from Yale. She has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship among
other honors, and her work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums including the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the art galleries of Yale
University, Vassar College, and Wesleyan University. She has published three books with Nazraeli
Press: Undergarments and Armor (2005), Fruitless (2007), and Wax Bodies (2012). She is currently
an Artist in Residence in the Photography program at Bard College in Annandale, N.Y.