Crust Ring, 2011. Cast bronze, wood, and paint, 31 x 23 x 23 in.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Instability: Chris Bradley’s Trompe L’oeil Masculinity

Chris Bradley, a Chicago-based sculptor, takes hold of one of the oldest drives in American art-making through studied simulations of various objects and materials. Successful trompe l’oeil not only seeks to convince viewers of a highly crafted imitation, but also requires a latent recognition of its falsity. At the end of the 18th century, Charles Willson Peale and other American painters developed dazzlingly detailed techniques that exerted a meticulously controlled grasp on reality. So keen were their empirical observations that their paintings occupy a space of meta-reality, wherein illusions stand convincingly alongside the objects on which they are based. But simulation has more than one intention, and the subsequent history of American art exploits them all. Warhol’s Brillo Boxes from the mid-1960s played simulation as critique, a send-up of illusory representation…see the entire article in the print version of April’s Sculpture magazine.