JEREMY BLAKE (1971-2007) was an artist of recognized accomplishment and promise. His artistic achievements and career were fast on the rise. He was considered influential and iconoclastic. Sadly, Blake committed suicide on July 17, 2007 in New York City one week after his beloved companion of 12 years, Theresa Duncan, committed suicide—the reasons for which remain open only to conjecture. His sixth solo exhibition at Kinz, Tillou + Feigen was scheduled to showcase Blake’s latest film “Glitterbest”, a collaborative “portrait” of cultural impresario Malcolm McLaren, soon after its premier in a current solo exhibition of his narrated films at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. However, “Glitterbest” was incomplete at the time of Blake’s death. The memorial show at Kinz, Tillou + Feigen includes a selection of wall works, a retrospective of daily screenings of his 21 short animated films (a schedule of which is posted here), as well as documentation of his unfinished last film.
Blake first garnered attention in the late 1990s with his large-scale, semi-abstract digital C-prints that rendered the appearance of being paintings and photographs, but were neither. He then began to animate sequences of such images to create continuously looping digital video works that emulated paintings and film, but were neither. His visually dense images often incorporated both abstract and representational expressions through the language of Modernism and voices of Film Noir. Blake’s aesthetically stylized works addressed a range of subjects from violence and terrorism to glamour and decadence, from metaphors of architectural spaces to profiles of cultural personifications.
Blake’s works have been exhibited internationally. They were included in three Whitney Biennials, are represented in 12 museum collections, and are a topic of dissertations and textbooks. He is widely acclaimed as a pioneer in merging the traditions of painting with a new digital world. He created hybrids of new media works, new genres, and a new kind of art experience. He made “paintings” that were digital prints and films that were “moving paintings”. He was an innovator who opened doors as to how others will express themselves long into the future.
Blake continued to challenge our expectations, as well as his own. He dissolved the distinction between object and time-based art while combining abstraction and representation in fresh and exciting ways. He used the most eloquent of formal vocabularies to illustrate hidden stories, present cinematic portraits and portray social perspectives. He was a narrative abstractionist who embraced history, pop culture, biography and fiction, and he always made things to be beautiful. His works are seductive; his subjects are provocative; his meanings are profound.
Jeremy Blake opened our eyes and expanded our ideas as to what art can be and how we see and think about the world. His contributions will be forever remembered and his legacy everlasting.