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This Dining Experience by Robert Therrien reflects the subdued intensity of his person: one who contemplates, then produces, unique and exquisite objects and installations, always with great attention to color, form, and detail, and prone to catalyzing shifts in a viewer’s experience of scale, perspective, and time. He is an artist with an exceptional ability to contemplate and derive meaning from his interior world.

 

In the early 1990s, the artist took Polaroids of the underside of a table and chairs in his kitchen and was struck by the expansive and immersive world they conveyed. He sought to re-create this dining experience in the round, and beginning in 1992 his work turned from handmade to industrially fabricated, from modestly scaled to nearly four times life-size, and from somewhat abstracted to more directly representational.

 

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Sculpture over the next twenty years included vertiginous stacks of dinner plates, a smooth silver oil can the size of a Christmas tree, a bulbous black cloud with faucets coming out of its puffs, a spiral-shaped bed, and the immense folding dining tables and chairs are seen here. All the while, Therrien maintained an intimate drawing practice comprising minimalist works on paper of simple, elegant, and playful forms.

 

“I try to stay with themes or objects or sources I can trace back to my personal history. The further back I can trace something as being meaningful to me in some way or another…the more I am attracted to it.” – Robert Therrien

 

 

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And if the first few decades of his work looked to childhood memories for inspiration, as those memories receded in time, his current work reflects what might be termed his artistic childhood: specifically, Pico Boulevard studio, located in Los Angeles, where Therrien began his career and first formed the ideas that would become central to his work. The artist lived and worked in this one-room studio from 1972 to 1989. As rent skyrocketed, he was eventually forced to move, building a new studio for himself, but this time it has two floors and multiple rooms in an undeveloped neighborhood of Los Angeles.

 

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Recalling the Polaroid snapshot taken beneath the artist’s kitchen table, the concept for this large-scale furniture emerged when Therrien was struck by the fascinating perspective and vantage of a view not usually seen, wondering, “What if people could walk into an environment like that?” And in fact they can: massive chairs skew across the dining room in different directions, inviting visitors to walk beneath them, and one table is overturned on top of the other as if, in the artist’s words, “someone was mopping the floor.”

 

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“I just keep thinking that these rooms, as different as all of them are, all have something to do with perspective.” – Robert Therrien

 

You can see Robert Therrien‘s “Under The Table” exhibition at The Broad! Hope you like this unique dining experience!

 

See also: The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago at Brooklyn Museum

 

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