William Anastasi (American, born 1933)
Black-and-white instant prints and mirror
14 1/2 x 11 1/4 in. (36.8 x 28.6 cm)
Purchase, Barbara and Eugene Schwartz Gift and The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1994 (1994.316.1–.9)
© William Anastasi
Anastasi's conceptual exercisethe gradual covering and replacement of a mirror by pictures of itselfallegorizes the transformation in the status of the photographic image in the 1960s. Only possible with the invention of the instant print camera, the artist's process involves photographing the mirror, attaching the print to the surface, and photographing the mirror again until the surface is covered. Anastasi's gesture problematizes what was once a direct, unmediated perception of the real with an endless labyrinth of recycled images. Like Andy Warhol's Brillo boxes and Jasper Johns' flags and targets, the perceptual gap in these works between the thing itself and what is literally depicted has been all but erased. The exponentially multiplying self-referentiality of Nine Polaroid Portraits of a Mirror constitutes one of the ways in which artists of the 1960s parodied the interiority and introspection of their immediate predecessors, the Abstract Expressionists.