Interview with Bill Armstrong
The source materials for the photographs in this series are re-worked master drawings, largely from the Renaissance. The artist’s many layered process of reproduction and blurring, appropriating an image and subjecting it to a series of manipulations (photocopying, cutting, painting, re-photographing) transforms the original images, giving them a new meaning in a new context — a renaissance of the Renaissance, if you will.
The original drawings were attempts to capture the human figure in a specific action, either from Biblical, mythological, or historical scenes, but the rough sketches were removed from the milieu of the larger whole. Armstrong’s process accentuates that extraction, removing them further from their context and adding a new psychology of color to the achromatic drawings.
Signature: Signed, titled, dated and numbered, verso
Fascinated by the profound effect that color can have on perception and emotions, Bill Armstrong produces lush, semi-abstract, semi-figurative photographs. Working in series, he makes his photographs by taking intentionally blurred photographs of other photographs. For example, for his “Infinity” series, begun in 1997, Armstrong gathers existing photographs—of Roman sculpture, Old Master drawings, or film stills—and alters them in various ways, including cutting them apart or painting over them. He then sets his camera’s lens to “infinity”, an extremely out-of-focus range, and photographs these manipulated images. Explaining his process and its results, he writes: “Extreme de-focusing enables me to blend and distill hues, creating rhapsodies of color that are meditative pieces—glimpses into a space of pure color, beyond our focus, beyond our ken.”
American, b. 1952, based in New York, New York