"The Eye of the Artist: The Work of Devorah Sperber"
Brooklyn Museum

The New York Sun

"A Masterpiece in Thread"
January 25, 2007

by Brice Brown

A detail of Devorah Sperber's 'After The Mona Lisa 1' (2005), which incorporates 425 spools of thread. An exhibit of Sperber's work goes on display tomorrow at the Brooklyn Museum.

At the Brooklyn Museum, opening tomorrow, "The Eye of the Artist" exhibits seven works by Devorah Sperber. Although each piece is an investigation into how much information is necessary for the brain to construct an image - thus firmly locating Sperber's ideas in the camp of science - her technical approach to the work comes from fiber art's ideas about myriad uses of textile-based materials.

Typical of Ms. Sperber's work is "After van Eyck" (2006), a 122-by-100-inch wall-hanging comprising 5,024 spools of colored thread strung together and suspended from a metal apparatus. On the floor, approximately three feet in front of the piece, is a metal stand with an acrylic sphere on top. To generate the imagery created by the spools, Ms. Sperber used a computer to turn Jan van Eyck's 1433 painting, "Man in a Red Turban," into pixels. She then transcribed each pixel into a corresponding spool of colored thread, arranging these so the image appears to be hanging upside down. Acting much like an eye, the acrylic sphere refracts this inverted image, simultaneously correcting the orientation of the jumbled spools and cohering them so that a miniature van Eyck painting appears to be floating in midair in this orb.

Ms. Sperber's complex works are impressive for their fastidious patience, and the long thick rows of colored thread-spools do have a pleasing tautness and abstract snap. But ultimately they are mired in their gee-whiz effect, making it hard to see these for more than well-constructed one-liners.

Craft, often a tricky work in the art-world lexicon, appears to have shed its loaded connotations. It is encouraging to see the once stigmatized decorative traditions-- such as textiles-- treated as one of the many tools contemporary artists now reach for in order to achieve a fully realized work of art.

"The Eye of the Artist: The Work of Devorah Sperber" until May 6 (200 Eastern Parkway, 718-638-5000).

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