Anders Bergstrom (American, born Tucson, Arizona, 1971)
Soft ground etching and steel pins
Sheet: 7 1/2 × 10 1/2 in. (19.1 × 26.7 cm)
John B. Turner Fund, 2015
Not on view
Anders Bergstrom makes art that challenges the viewer to reexamine his or her connections to the detritus of everyday life, as well as his or her expectations for works of art. Mining the trompe l’oeil tradition, Bergstrom skillfully makes etchings that visually imitate brown paper bags. By using one of the most traditional and respected printmaking methods to create works that resemble something people encounter daily—either new at the store or stained, ripped and destined for garbage--he forces the viewer to examine these objects with new eyes. The flat-bottomed brown paper bag, whose invention is dated between 1870 and 1880 and credited to both Charles Stilwell of Union Paper Bag Machine Co. and Margaret E. Knight, of the Columbia Paper Bag Company (the latter of whom was the first woman to receive a patent), is a designed object that has been included in exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art. Bergstrom studies and replicates all details of these bags, from the jagged edge of the seams to the inking that conveys information about the brand, the time and date when the bag was made, and even the name of the creator of each bag. Bergstrom's prints are soft ground etchings, which reveal the care, effort, and time involved in their construction. He uses a variety of colors to convey the effects of the different inks and stains, as well as the brown tones of the bags. The paper is precious and not the cheap brown paper of the original bags. Bergstrom cuts, folds, assembles, and dissembles the works himself. He pins the corners of the bag to the backing so that they resemble entomological specimens. In this humorous way, he invites the viewer to study that which is normally either overlooked or discarded.