December 14, 2009

Collection Rotation: Anne McGuire

Our monthly feature, Collection Rotation: some wonderful guest organizes a mini-exhibition from our collection works online. This month’s guest-curator is the totally marvelous San Francisco artist and filmmaker ANNE MCGUIRE. You can see some of her work in JIGSAMENTALLAMA, on through 12/19, at David Cunningham Projects. Thanks Anne!

All these coincidences are driving me crazy.

It starts with my grandmother, born in 1905:

Grandma McGuire, photographer unknown

Grandma McGuire, photographer unknown

The photographer Roger M. Parry was also born in 1905. That makes my Grandma and Parry contemporaries.

Parry took this picture called Madeleine, in 1938. It’s of a woman’s bun on the back of her head. Madeleine is also the female protagonist of Hitchcock’s VERTIGO, a movie about a man obsessed with a woman named Madeleine who wears a bun. There’s a great scene in VERTIGO where Johnny and Madeleine visit Mission Dolores, two blocks from where I live. The photo by Parry predates Hitchcock’s movie (and the story it’s based on) by a couple of decades.


Roger M. Parry, Madeleine, 1938; Collection SFMOMA © Estate of Roger Parry, courtesy Nicholas Callaway


Saul Bass, Anatomy of a Murder, 1959; Collection SFMOMA © Estate of Saul Bass

Saul Bass designed many of Hitchcock’s movie posters. He often used just a couple of colors, and reduced his figures to blank cut-out shapes which remind me of those Pompeii figures (as seen in this photo by Georgio Sommers from the 1880s):


Georgio Sommer, Figures at Pompeii, ca. 1870s; Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund

I’ve always been captivated by the story of Pompeii and how in 79 AD it was covered by lava and ash when the volcano Vesuvius erupted, killing thousands as they ate, worked, walked, and lived.

These figures by Manuel Neri were made exactly 1900 years after Vesuvius blew up. At first I thought they were by George Segal:


Manuel Neri, Mary and Julia, 1979-80; Collection SFMOMA © Manuel Neri

Here is George Segal’s Hot Dog Stand (note ceiling). My guess is that Segal wanted to bring Mondrian to the streets.


George Segal, Hot Dog Stand, 1978; Collection SFMOMA © The George and Helen Segal Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York

Have you seen George Kuchar’s 1968 film House of the White People? It features Segal at work in his studio in New Jersey (he had converted his chicken coop into a museum of his sculpture).

Lee Friedlander took this photo in 1968. (Baltimore.) I love this lady’s high-hair and shift and the Diner’s Club sticker on the window. Does this place still exist? I visited Baltimore in April for a performance festival called TransModern. There is a wild spirit at work in Baltimore, playful. Lots of youth, working on their looks, stars of their world.


Lee Friedlander, Baltimore, 1968; Collection of the Sack Photographic Trust © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

The youths in Rineke Dijkstra’s video The Buzz Club are also note-worthy. The work shows club kids trying to act cool, the way they would in the confines of a dark dance club, but here they stand against a blank wall under bright lights in front of a camera. The camera is alluring, a mirror they cannot see into.


Rineke Dijkstra, The Buzz Club, Liverpool, England/Mysteryworld, Zaandam, Netherlands (still), 1996-97; Collection SFMOMA © Rineke Dijkstra

Dan Graham’s wonderful piece is a bit of a fun-house mirror – bring your camera.


Dan Graham, Double Cylinder (The Kiss), 1994; Collection SFMOMA © Dan Graham

My nephew’s kid River would like it.

River, Grandma McGuire's great-great grandson

River, Grandma McGuire’s great-great grandson

Anne McGuire’s work, both on paper and videotape, plays with conventions of perception. Her film Strain Andromeda, The (1993) re-edits Robert Wise’s The Andromeda Strain (1971) in such a way that it starts with the end, and ends with the beginning. Ditto with her 2006 Adventure Poseidon, The (The Unsinking of My Ship), after Ronald Neame’s The Poseidon Adventure (1972). She has taught at Korea’s Kyung Sung University, the San Francisco Art Institute, UC Santa Cruz, and at Stanford University. Video Databank (Chicago) and LUX Distribution (London) distribute her videos. McGuire’s works on paper are available through [2nd Floor Projects] in San Francisco. She lives in San Francisco, where she also writes poems and performs as a singer.

Comments (8)

  • very nice

  • I feel a bit like I’m in “Spellbound” with Anne as the keen Dr. Petersen my psychoanalyst.

    Dr. Petersen notices that there is something strange about Dr. Edwardes. He has a peculiar phobia about seeing sets of parallel lines against a white background, first displayed in an inappropriate reaction to seeing a diagram drawn with the tines of a fork on a tablecloth. Dr. Petersen soon realizes, by comparing handwriting, that this man is an impostor and not the real Dr. Edwardes. He confides to her that he killed Dr. Edwardes and took his place. He suffers from massive amnesia and does not know who he is. ‘Dr. Edwardes’ disappears during the night, having left a note for Dr. Petersen that he is going to New York City. It becomes public knowledge that ‘Dr. Edwardes’ is an impostor, and that the real Dr. Edwardes is missing and may have been murdered. Dr. Petersen goes to the hotel indicated in the note, knowing that the police are in pursuit. She needs to use her psychoanalytic skills to unlock his amnesia and find out what had really happened. One of Hitchcock’s characteristic innocent-person-pursued-by-the-police evasions ensues, as Dr. Petersen and the impostor (who now calls himself ‘John Brown’) travel by train to Rochester, to meet Dr. Brulov (Michael Chekhov), who had been Dr. Petersen’s teacher and mentor. The two doctors analyze a dream that ‘John Brown’ had. The dream sequence (designed by Salvador Dalí) is full of psychoanalytic symbols—eyes, curtains, scissors, playing cards (some of them blank), a man with no face, a man falling off a building, a man hiding behind a chimney dropping a wheel and wings. They deduce that Brown and Edwardes had been on a ski trip together (the lines in white are ski tracks) and that Edwardes had somehow died there. Dr. Petersen and Brown go to the ski resort (the wings provide a clue) to reenact the event and unlock his repressed memories. Near the bottom of the hill, Brown’s memory suddenly returns. He recalls that there is a precipice in front of them, over which Edwardes had fallen to his death. He stops them just in time. He also remembers a traumatic event from his childhood—he slid down some stairs and accidentally knocked his brother onto sharp pointed railings, killing him. This incident had caused him to develop amnesia and a generalized guilt complex. He also remembers that his real name is John Ballantine. All is understood now, and Ballantine is about to be exonerated, when it is discovered that Edwardes had a bullet in his body. Ballantine is convicted of murder and sent to prison. A heartbroken Dr. Petersen returns to her position at the hospital, where Dr. Murchison is once again the director. After reconsidering her notes from the dream, she realizes that the ‘wheel’ was a revolver and that the man hiding behind the chimney and dropping the wheel was Dr. Murchison hiding behind a tree, shooting Dr. Edwardes and dropping the gun. She confronts Murchison with this and he confesses, but says that he didn’t drop the gun; he still has it. He pulls it out of his desk and threatens to shoot her. However, when she points out that while the first murder carried extenuating circumstances of his own mental state, murdering her as well surely would result in the electric chair, the man chooses instead to kill himself. Dr. Petersen is then reunited with Ballantine.

  • Heather Sparks says:

    Beautiful Anne!

  • Wonderful!

  • guy overfelt says:

    awesome anne!

  • This collection is a delight, one of the best!

  • Beautiful work. Thanks, Anne McGuire.

  • This is super, I love it.

See all responses (8)
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