What is it about a window that inspires artists so much? From Michelangelo and Johannes Vermeer to Frida Kahlo and Vincent van Gogh, the window allows them to play with light, show perspective or add a little mystery. For Denise Kupferschmidt, windows mark the passage of time whilst offering a comforting anchor for us all.
On display at Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton until 4 July, the American artist's latest series, Windows, features artworks of windows themselves. Nothing more, nothing less. The architectural features do not form part of a broader picture. They stand proudly alone, framed by themselves, giving a glimpse of the outside world. Geometric and minimalist in their design with a uniform black frame, we see cityscapes beyond, at dawn or dusk. You can almost hear the traffic below, the horns blaring and the occasional siren alerting everyone to an emergency.
There's a clear love of New York City here. It is, after all, where Kupferschmidt is based. The paintings are inspired by Denise's own window, looking out onto the skyscrapers of her beloved home city. Created during many lockdowns, the changing light across the series is deliberate and evokes the passage of time – each hint at life's comforting yet banal familiarity.
Although Kupferschmidt offers her isolated perspective of New York, the view is forever changing. Her observations remind us that despite being in the same place, there might always be something new and interesting to discover, something we might have previously missed. Charting the position of the sun and the moon, these window views also reveal how these cosmic shifts can affect our environment and mood.
Trained in printmaking, Kupferschmidt is renowned for her minimal, geometric approach to her paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures. There's an influence from early 20th-century Primitivism, and she pitches Matisse, Yayoi Kusama and Keith Haring as huge inspirations.
In Windows, her process follows her previous work and is part of a quest to "fuse her creative practice with everyday life". Tracking the sun's movement outside her apartment and across the linearly deconstructed skyline is one way of accomplishing this goal. It is in this observation of the early morning light turning eventually to darkness, crafting paintings in an array of bright colours, that Kupferschmidt implies that the passage of time is a miracle, "as confounding and constant as gravitational orbit, the centrifugal force of which keeps us all in our place". One could say, the window became a symbol of hope during the pandemic and our only connection with the outside world. Kupferschmidt's series is a humbling, grounding reminder – something we can all relate to.