Our world is filled with spots: small round marks on the surface of objects, natural or human-made. But to spot is also an action – to see or notice – often something difficult to detect like an animal in the wild, a friend in a crowd. Spotting something or someone requires discerning eyes.
In Spots, we explore both meanings of the word. Together, these 18 stickers of contemporary and archival objects are things we’ve seen, noticed, and found curious enough to share with you all as a Collection. They’ve been Spotted. A rainbow basketball, a gold coin, the world, and a cucumber slice – each is also circular, and takes the form of a spot when placed on a flat surface. In celebration of all things spotted, we’d like to explore the history of this ubiquitous form and offer a few creative provocations.
Nature is filled with spots. A cheetah’s golden-orange coat is marked by roughly 2,000 evenly spaced, solid black spots, while the shell of a ladybug has exactly seven. Among plants, Begonias show white spot-patterns on their leaves, while the bark of Sycamore trees is lightly spotted in an irregular camouflage pattern. Human beings are spotted with various skin blemishes, freckles, and moles. When we close our eyes, spots of light appear against the dark underside of our eyelids, and when our memory fails us, a metaphorical blank spot appears instead of what we wish we remembered. Given how extensive the natural phenomenon of spots are, it's unsurprising that artists and designers would use them for aesthetic reasons.
In the Chauvet Cave in southwestern France, early modern humans there, known as the Aurignacians, used dots some 38,000 years ago to represent animals and other figures in wall paintings and carved tablets. The visual language of spots and dots have proliferated in modern art - from the post-impressionist pointillism of Georges Seurat (popularly called Seurat-the-dot), to the psychedelic, spot paintings and sculptures of Yayoi Kusama. Comic-books, graphic novels, and commercial illustrations use various kinds of spot-patterning, and fine artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Sigmar Polke have appropriated these patterns in their own paintings of comics and photographs. In brief, the spot is a foundational visual tool used by ancient and modern artists alike for abstract and representational purposes.
- Kevin Amato (@kevin_amato)
- Yayoi Kusama, Installation at FIAC Hors Les Murs, 2019.