Tauba Auerbach Biography

San Francisco-born Tauba Auerbach's practice manifests itself in many forms, predominantly in painting but also in the realms of photography, graphic design and performance. All works share a conceptual grounding in a determination to push the limits of perception, logic, systems, structures, linguistics, mathematics and even space. In patterns and equations, logic has its limits. Auerbach does not seem to believe in absolutes; reaching the breaking points of each field, she instead offers her viewers a world of new possibilities.

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To support her artistic career, Auerbach used to work as a sign-painter. Influenced by her job and the wordplay of Bruce Nauman—who in turn was indebted to philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein—early work by Auerbach includes paintings of letters, abstracted based on their interior shapes. In works such as The Whole Alphabet, From the Center Out, Digital III (2005), Auerbach reduces each letter to individual line components and nests the lines one inside the other for the snuggest overall fit. In this process, Auerbach explores the structure of language and communication within visual culture at large.

In 2009, Auerbach began her 'Fold' paintings. To make these paintings, Auerbach presses, lifts and folds the loose canvas into a three-dimensional form and, using an industrial sprayer, sprays the canvas from various angles and with various colours. She then flattens and stretches the canvas. The final painting is consequentially a shadow of its three-dimensional life, with pigment standing in for light. The canvas, in essence, becomes a picture of itself.

In RGB Colorspace Atlas (2011), Auerbach materialises the pixel colour spectrum within a book measuring 20.3 x 20.3 x 20.3 cm and made up of 3200 pages. Within the leaves of this hefty tome, every single colour possible within the RGB spectrum is presented. The result is a stunning cube that at once makes finite the seemingly infinite and reinforces the magnitude of the spectrum's scope. Similarly, Auerbach created Marble Book and Wood Book, both in 2011. To create the books Auerbach cut out a brick of the material at the same dimensions as the final book would be—marble for Marble Book and wood for Wood Book—and then cut it into 'leaves'. She scanned each side of each 'leaf' and painted the edges of the book by hand so the entire physical object represents an accurate cross-section of the material and can be browsed through. In works such as these, Auerbach enhances the richness of our perceived worlds, not only inside but also past the limits of what we can comprehend.

In 2009, Auerbach participated in the New Museum Triennial, and in 2010 she was part of the Whitney Biennial. In 2011 she received the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. With this award she extended her investigation into the history and measurement of the visible colour spectrum; in this, she explored the possible existence of a fourth colour within the red-green-blue spectrum. This theoretical foray into an extended dimension of colour is genetically attached to the X chromosome. As such, it is possibly only accessible for women.

Auerbach lives and works in New York City.

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2017

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