Transforming with Rob and Nick Carter

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
Jul 2, 2015 2:30PM

Visitor engagement can be a thorny problem for an art museum. The amount of time that the average museum visitor spends looking at an individual work of art varies depending on which study you read. But, they all agree on one thing: the length of time is less than thirty seconds. In the case of contemporary art it is often less than 15 seconds. Complexity and nuance fall away in favor of immediate gratification.  In less time than it takes to see a television commercial, a masterpiece gains and loses attention.  

Rob and Nick Carter: Transforming at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art 

The Virginia Museum of Contemporary art opened Rob and Nick Carter: Transforming on May 20th. For this exhibition artists Rob and Nick Carter present a body of work that compels longer looking. This is the next step in the artistic careers of a couple preoccupied with chance meetings of light and color. Rob is a photographer and Nick is a painter by training. Together they have collaborated on many projects where the two mediums meet.  They were ready to take their work another step forward when they had the opportunity to collaborate with the MPC. 

Rob and Nick Carter, Transforming Vanitas Painting, 2012-13

MPC is a creative studio that creates digital imagery for a variety of media. Examples include Godzilla, the Harry Potter Franchise and Coca-Cola. The Carters provided a new kind of challenge: create imagery seen over the course of hours rather than seconds. Together, MPC and the Carters borrowed paintings from the Golden Age of Dutch Art and brought it to life. Instead of a static vase of flowers sitting in a niche, we see the blooms sway in the breeze, a lazy butterfly alight on a bud or a caterpillar nibbling on a leaf. The paintings reveal their vitality.

The bronze sculptures, Tulip and Sunflowers, present another type of viewing. Both works were copied from two-dimensional paintings by Judith Leyster and Vincent Van Gogh respectively. First, the creative team rendered the paintings in three dimensions, accounting for every brushstroke and figuring out what the fully realized piece would look like. Then, a three dimensional printer made a resin model which was used to create the cast of the final bronze sculpture. This laborious process challenged both their creative and technical abilities.

Rob and Nick Carter, Sunflowers, 2012-2013

For those who normally wander make a quick pass through an art exhibition, barely noting the works as you pass through the galleries, there is reason to linger. The small spectacles within each frame reward you. With only a few seconds of patience, new worlds emerge in each artwork.

Husband and wife, Rob and Nick Carter have been collaborating for over fifteen years. Based in London, they have exhibited within the US and internationally. Their work is in collections of the Frans Hals Museum, The Netherlands, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Royal Bank of Scotland. 

This exhibition will be on view at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art until August 16, 2015. 

by Heather Hakimzadeh, Curator, Virginia MOCA. 

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art