Guano (Menhir)

Judit Reigl

Part of an ambitious series of process- and time-based paintings, Reigl’s Guano (Menhir) confronts the viewer with an imposing and ambiguous mound centrally positioned against a dark backdrop. The form’s hard, stony appearance, evoking compressed natural strata, is a result of the painter’s innovative technique, a radical departure from her earlier, Surrealist-inspired methods. To protect a new studio floor, she had covered it with several layers of rejected canvases, which became saturated with pictorial matter and were trampled underfoot. In her words, "As time went by, these excremental rags slowly became stratified layers, like the guano [bird dung] that comes from the isles of Latin America." She then performed an excavation of sorts, finding her composition by using a homemade tool to scrape through the years of serendipitous accumulation.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 921

Public Domain

Object Details

Artist: Judit Reigl (French (born Hungary), 1923)

Date: 1959–64

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 72 13/16 × 83 7/16 in. (185 × 212 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, Gift of The A.L. Levine Family Foundation, by exchange, 2015

Accession Number: 2015.420

Rights and Reproduction: © Judit Reigl

the artist, Marcoussis (until 2015; sold through Janos Gat Gallery, New York, to MMA)

Galerie Rencontes, Paris. "Judit Reigl," May 2–June 2, 1974, not in catalogue.

Grenoble. Musée de Peinture. "Judit Reigl: Peintures Choisis 1956–1978," September–November 1978, unnumbered cat. (as "Série "Guano").

Bourg-en-Bresse. Musée de Brou. "Judit Reigl," March 2–April 12, 1992, no. 10 (as "Guano", 1959–1963).

Kunsthalle, Budapest. "Reigl," October 5–November 13, 2005, unnumbered cat. (p. 103; as "Guano," 1959–63, mixed media, canvas, lent by Galerie de France).

Oberlin, Oh. Allen Memorial Art Museum. "Judit Reigl: Body of Music," February 2–May 29, 2016, no. 11.

Makláry Kálman. Judit Reigl. Vol. 1, Budapest, 2010.

Denise Birkhofer in Judit Reigl: Body of Music. Exh. cat., Allen Memorial Art Museum. Oberlin, Oh., 2016, pp. 19–20, 31–32 nn. 22, 23, 25, p. 58, no. 11, ill. p. 59 (color).