Demand’s photographs of the paper constructions he builds in his studio are typically based on photographs related to politically charged real-world events. He begins with an existing image, usually culled from the news media, which he translates into a three-dimensional life-sized model made of colored paper and cardboard. The models are then carefully lit and photographed, after which they are destroyed. Three times removed from the scenes they depict, Demand’s works are masterpieces of pictorial ambiguity that occupy a mesmerizing middle ground between reality and artifice.
Vault is based on a police photograph of a storeroom at the Wildenstein Institute in Paris, where thirty paintings and sculptures that had been missing for decades were discovered during a police raid in 2011. The missing artworks belong to the heirs of a French Jewish family displaced during the Holocaust. In Demand’s picture, as in the photograph on which it is based, the framed paintings—which include works by Degas, Manet, and Morisot—are turned to face the walls and remain tantalizingly hidden from view.
Inscription: Signed, dated, and editioned in ink by the artist on strainer, OA: "Thomas Demand 2012 2/6"
[Matthew Marks Gallery, New York]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Now You See It: Photography and Concealment," March 31, 2014–September 1, 2014.