Llyn Foulkes: Bloody Heads

New Museum
Aug 6, 2013 9:39PM

While his rock paintings achieved tremendous success and were acquired by several museums, Foulkes grew dismayed at his evolving formulaic approach. The magic that he had found in the studio was gone and he felt confined by the flatness of the rock paintings. Around this time (1971–72), he also began therapy and a new period of introspection. He re-examined a self-portrait that he had been working on for a few years and, in a bold move partly instigated by the memory of seeing a disfigured corpse in a mortuary, he covered the forehead and eyes with a shocking pool of blood-red paint. Although the faces are more often disfigured or obscured than exclusively bloody, the painting Who’s on Third? (1971–73) was the first in an ongoing series of “bloody head” portraits. The figures also began to escape the confines of the frame, with an arm or a necktie sometimes extending beyond its edge. In addition, the paintings from this period were framed with found materials: stamped and stained wood, recycled frames (often backwards), an iron grate, and uneven boards with nails sticking out of them and chipped corners. Despite being able to afford to buy frames at this point in his career, Foulkes preferred the rough, worn quality of the found materials.

"LLYN FOULKES" is on view through September 1.

Images: Installation views, "LLYN FOULKES" at New Museum. Courtesy New Museum, New York. Photo: Benoit Pailley

New Museum