Anna Meliksetian and Michael Briggs are pleased to present Hue Saturation Value: The Archer Paintings, a new body of work by Los Angeles based artist Meg Cranston (b. 1960). The five new paintings, which developed out of an invitation Cranston received to do an exhibition at Los Angeles’ Archer School for Girls, continue Cranston’s ongoing investigation into color theory and its cultural ramifications, the legacy of modernism, individual and shared experience and highlight her idiosyncratic approach to art making.
The paintings in the exhibition were created to present Archer students with an array of color choices and allow them to vote for their favorites. It was an experiment to see if girls aged 10-18, (who are the most targeted consumers of fashion and cosmetics) would select colors similar to those dictated by the industrial color industry notably, the Pantone Corporation, or, have different choices. They were also asked to supply names for the colors.
Three of the paintings are based on primary colors, red, blue and yellow, and a fourth represents the “full spectrum” of color created from those primaries. By adjusting the level of white, black and the addition of complementary colors, Cranston experiments with the nearly infinite variety of tints, tones and shades of any given color. The title of the exhibition refers to the three main properties of color, hue, value and saturation with saturation having a double meaning both as chroma and industrial ubiquity.
After the voting was complete, Cranston used the results to create the final painting for the exhibition, Mr. Moseby’s Salmon Not Pink Shirt. The title was written by a student to describe one of the top voted colors #60 - a red/orange hue that is nearly identical to Pantone’s 2019 color of the year, Living Coral.
Following on from her 2017 exhibition at the gallery Same Composition, Different Hue, Different Titles, where Cranston investigated the tropes of high modernism and its abstract forms, specifically those of the architect and painter Le Corbusier, Cranston investigates the grid in this latest body of work, a fundamental and defining element of early twentieth century art onwards and a visual device which “functions to declare the modernity of modern art” in the words of critic Rosalind Kraus. Cranston’s grids however, are idiosyncratic, the mathematical and structural precision and rigor of those used in, say, minimal or conceptual art, subverted by Cranston’s personalized and handmade approach to their formal logic.
The colors in the works being chosen by “popular demand” as it were, reflect Cranston’s interest in shared experience, the cultural conditioning of our tastes and preferences in the realm of color, often influenced by wider cultural trends such as fashion in particular, and the subtle yet powerful influence of corporations like Pantone LLC.
Meg Cranston has been exhibiting internationally since 1988. Early exhibitions include curator Paul Schimmel’s seminal 1992 exhibition Helter Skelter at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the 1993 Biennale di Venezia / Venice Biennale. Solo exhibitions include the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Witte de With, Rotterdam, Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen, and a survey exhibition at Artspace, Auckland, New Zealand.
More recent exhibitions include solo exhibitions at the Kunstverien Heilbronn, Germany in 2015 and LA><Art, Los Angeles in 2013. Recent group exhibitions include Post-Studio at the Museo Jumex, Mexico City, Welcome to the Dollhouse curated by Rebecca Matalon at the MOCA / Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Class Reunion: Works from the Gaby and Wilhelm Schürmann Collection at the MUMOK / Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Los Angeles - A Fiction curated by Gunnar B. Kvaran, Thierry Raspail and Nicolas Garait-Leavenworth at the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, which toured to MAC / Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon, France (catalog), L’ image volée curated by Thomas Demand at the Fondazione Prada, Milan (cat.) and L.A. Exuberance - New Gifts by Artists at the LACMA / Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Afghan Carpet Project at the Hammer Museum curated by Ali Subotnick, the biennial Made in L.A., also at the Hammer Museum (cat.) and Hans Ulrich Obrist’s ongoing Do It project. As well, Cranston co-curated with John Baldessari, and was included in the group exhibition This Brush for Hire: Norm Laich and Many Other Artists at the ICA / Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2018.
Among her publications, Cranston is the co-editor of the JRP | Ringier books More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About John Baldessari Volumes 1 and 2 with Obrist. A monograph on her work Hot Pants in a Cold, Cold World also published by JRP | Ringier is available. Cranston’s work can be found in major public collections including those of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
Special thanks to Isabel Kuh, Chad Attie and all the students at the Archer School for Girls, Brentwood, CA.