serif vs. sans serif

Auerbach's "V"

Auerbach's "V"

Tauba Auerbach is one of my favorite contemporary artists. Her work deals with the complexities of language, so of course I’m riveted.

Anyway, here is a piece I wrote for art.blogging.la back in 2005 (that unfortunately no longer appears in the blog’s archives):

Tauba Auerbach’s world is a place where words and letters are the main attraction, instead of being sidelined to an artist’s statement or delegated to a review on a blog somewhere in cyberspace; language is an art in itself. Although she’s a native to the Bay Area and studied with Margaret Kilgallen at Stanford, her work is a clean break from the Mission School with a more minimalist approach and a monochromatic style that’s clean and tidy. You can see Kilgallen’s influence in her work, in her preoccupation with words and phrases and unique fonts, but Auerbach takes an almost technical approach towards language and letters, incorporating Braille and the great analogue/digital divide into her work.

Her first solo show ever, How to Spell the Alphabet, opened at  New Image Art Gallery this past weekend and pays homage to those 26 characters of various shapes and sizes that make it all possible. Millions of us use them every day, everyone has their own way of writing them, people in other countries use them to create words that I don’t understand, and yet their functional necessity can sometimes leave them feeling a little underappreciated. Personally, I think her calligraphy pieces are her strongest (“V” is my favorite, but maybe I’m a little biased), their dramatic serifs and intentionally superfluous lines and curves could bring out the drama queen in any Times New Roman-wallflower. Auerbach’s obsession with the building blocks of our own language, the foundation of our fundamental communication system as human beings (for better or worse), makes for thought-provoking and beautiful art.

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~ by Valerie Palmer on July 2, 2009.

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