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Thomas Demand
72-¼ × 99-¾ × 1-½ inches
color chromogenic print
Not on view

Object Details

Photographs (Photographs)
Accession Number
in black ink on reverse TC “Thomas Demand 1997 Barn”
Physical Description
interior of a barn, Jackson Pollock’s studio
Credit Line
Butler Family Fund, 1998

object label Thomas Demand, Barn (1997) Walker Art Center, 2009

Thomas Demand painstakingly reconstructs imagery from found photographs, creating full-sized sculptural tableaux from cardboard and paper. Carefully lighting and photographing these elaborate stage sets (devoid of living things), the artist produces immaculate images of architectural facades and room interiors. Drawn from the recesses of collective memory, the seemingly banal, airless spaces are in fact laden with cultural significance.

Here, Demand has photographed a model based on Abstract Expressionist artist Jackson Pollock’s famous studio on Long Island, New York, where he perfected his drip, pour, and splatter painting technique. Demand’s mute image is filled with the aura of Pollock’s legendary action painting immortalized in the 1950 photographs by Hans Namuth. These pictures demonstrated the performative turn in art, as the event of making began to compete with the primacy of the object itself. Demand’s approach can be described as a translation of sorts—and like all translations, something of the original source is lost. But in this case, something unexpected, even uncanny, is gained.

Walker Art Center. Extended label for Thomas Demand, Barn, from the exhibition Event Horizon, November 21, 2009 to August 26, 2012.

Copyright 2009 Walker Art Center

object label Thomas Demand, Barn (1997) Walker Art Center, 2000

Thomas Demand’s photographs straddle the line between photography and sculpture, instilling their subjects with a sense of unease. Working from our culture’s immense archive of images, he painstakingly reconstructs found photographs into full-sized sculptural tableaux fashioned from cardboard and paper. Drawn from the recesses of our collective memory, these images replicate culturally significant if visually ordinary spaces such as the corridor outside the apartment of mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer, or the room where L. Ron Hubbard wrote Dianetics, the author’s founding manifesto of Scientology. With Barn, Demand has photographed a model he made of Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock’s famous studio.

Carefully lighting and then photographing these elaborate stage sets, Demand produces immaculate images of architectural facades and room interiors that are banal and devoid of life, evoking a sense of mystery in their haunting and artificial doubling of the real world.

This work adds to the museum’s growing collection of conceptual photography by German artists, including Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky, and Bernd and Hilla Becher. Prior to its acquisition, this photograph was first shown in the 1997 Walker exhibition Stills: Emerging Photography in the 1990s.

Label text for Thomas Demand, Barn (1997), from the exhibition State of the Art: Recent Gifts and Acquisitions, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, July 22-October 8, 2000.

Copyright 2000 Walker Art Center