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Gary Simmons

Plaza Inferno Grid

2008

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In Plaza Inferno Grid Gary Simmons presents a science fiction–like rendering of a skyscraper fragmented by a six-part grid. Simmons’s signature blurring method makes the skyscraper appear as if it is burning. The work is one in a series he created in reference to the 1972 sci-fi movie Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, a cinematic metaphor for race relations in the United States released in the years following the Watts rebellion of 1965. In this film the corporate environment of Century City in Los Angeles provides the setting for a dystopian future. Plaza Inferno Grid was created and first exhibited during the 2008 US presidential election, which was marked by contradictions between the popularity of the nation’s first African American presidential candidate and the coded racism of much of his opposition; as such it resonates as a symbol for the politics of identity and race in contemporary American society. [Permanent collection label, 2020]

  • Artist Gary Simmons (American, b. 1964)
  • Title Plaza Inferno Grid
  • Date 2008
  • Medium Oil and pigment on six pieces of gessoed paper
  • Dimensions overall | 102 x 67 1/2 x 2 in.
    sheet | 29 x 29 in. (each)
    framed | 33 x 33 x 2 in. (each)
  • Credit line University purchase, Bixby Fund, 2012
  • Object number WU 2012.0003 a-f

Urban Planning: Art and the City 1967–2017
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (St. Louis, Missouri), 05/05/2017 - 08/13/2017

Encountering the City: The Urban Experience in Contemporary Art
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/12/2014 - 01/04/2015

Gary Simmons: Smoke
Margo Leavin Gallery (Los Angeles, California), 10/18/2008 - 11/15/2008

Margo Leavin Gallery (New York, NY)

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