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Problematical Tripdickery

Gladys Nilsson

1984

color etching and drypoint on paper

7 1/4" x 18 5/8"

In this print, tiny people wield flashlights that reveal bodily details of the larger figures venturing through the dark. When Nilsson was a student at SAIC, she enrolled in nearly every art history class that was offered by her mentor—and later close friend—Whitney Halstead and subsequently developed a lifelong interest in the subject. The disproportionately sized figures in her work are inspired by the dramatic scale shifts in Late Gothic and Italian Renaissance paintings. Often the patron who commissioned the work could be seen in the painting, usually on a smaller scale, kneeling in devotion alongside the main figure. The title of this print also playfully notes that this work is a triptych—an art historical term originally used to describe church altarpieces that were in three panels. Today the term is used to denote a singular work divided into three parts (in this instance three separate prints on one piece of paper).

Credit

The Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism