2X: Paintings, Pairs, Twins, and Diptychs

Dec 20, 2014 - Jul 31, 2015
Machaver Gallery

Some of the greatest minds in history have been interested in uncovering the secrets associated with the double. Early Greek mythology introduced the notion of the double as a seductive and dangerous phenomenon with the story of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection, but received no love in return. Plato’s discussions of the real and the copy led, in turn, to conceptions of the id/ego/superego and the self/shadow from psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, respectively, in turn of the nineteenth-century Vienna. Today, twin studies allow both scientists and psychologists to study the behavior and personalities of people genetically identical or similar, and to test hypotheses about innate and learned abilities, seeking to understand how identical a pair can be.

Doubling, twins, pairs, and diptychs are found throughout the history of western art. Artists have long used the double as a way to juxtapose two states of mind, matter, or moments in time. In the late sixteenth century, the word “simulacrum” was used to describe a representation of a person, especially a god, through sculpture or painting. Philosophers of the nineteenth century likened photorealism to a copy of a photograph, which, in itself, is a copy of an original. By the twentieth century, essayist Walter Benjamin had described the aura of the single work of art in what he termed the “age of mechanical reproduction.” Benjamin’s ideas have cast a long shadow on twentieth- and twenty-first-century thinking about art, as well as its representations in a culture awash in copies and mediated experiences.  

This exhibition explores the representation of the double in the second half of the twentieth century. The paintings on view examine instances of doubling - through the use of different subjects, moods, techniques, and intentions - in a selection of work drawn from the Zimmerli’s collection and inspired by a diptych by Joan Snyder (borrowed from a private collection). Seen together as a group, these paintings encourage the thinking about similarity and difference, connections and relationships, cause and effect, composition and balance.

Organized by Angela Bouton, Rutgers University, Class of 2016, and Donna Gustafson, Andrew W. Mellon Liaison for Academic Programs and Curator

Martin Wong, American (1946-1999)

Twin Machine, 1984 


Gift of Herbert and Lenore Schorr

Courtesy of the Estate of Martin Wong and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York

Photo Peter Jacobs