Perpetual Photo, #209 B

Artist: Allan McCollum (American, born Los Angeles, California, 1944)

Date: 1982–89

Medium: Gelatin silver print

Dimensions: Frame: 45 × 52 in. (114.3 × 132.1 cm)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1992

Accession Number: 1992.5005

Rights and Reproduction: © Allan McCollum


Amused by the pictures providing the requisite "color" for interiors in soap operas, situation comedies, and the like, McCollum captured them by photographing his television screen. A few years later, he enlarged fragments of the pictures that had decorated the "rooms." In the unique pictures that resulted, the subjects are often indecipherable, but the dreamy floating forms are far more powerful, mysterious, and timeless than their more legible antecedents. As the artist provided the negative with each unique print, the work of art can be reproduced if lost or damaged in the future, thus underlining its permanence and the relative vapidity and evanescence of its origins.