Off the Wall

Even artworks that are generally considered to be 'flat' can offer a tremendous amount of dimension and texture. Whether created by building up the thickest layers of paint or crafting objects akin to hanging sculpture, artists use this dimension to draw viewers in, compelling them to examine a work more closely.

Marcel Duchamp's Rotorelief from 1935 quite literally jutted into the viewer's space. The clock-like center disk that extends outward from its mount is a swirling lithograph fixed to a motorized plate and housed in a velvet box. In Head of E.O.W., Frank Auerbach took the concept of impasto–the technique of thickly applying paint to stand away from a canvas–to an extreme. Streaks of pigment create countless crannies which alternately ensnare and reflect light, changing the work's appearance depending on the viewer's vantage point. By contrast, Alberto Burri would take a flame to his works, allowing the heat to warp his original surface and became laden with new, organically-formed textures.

Works with a unique sense of volume and depth draw viewers in, challenging them to consider the form as much as the technique and materials used. It's this 3D experience that resonates so powerfully.