Ferd Lang hangs in MUC

Art sometimes pushes the understanding of space. To achieve different effects, artists will push the edge of their art in order to push the concepts of space and negative space. The Morris University Center (MUC) houses one of these types of paintings that pushes these concepts.

Hanging near the book store is a rather large Ferd Lang painting. Ferd Lang was a master’s in fine arts student at SIUE during the 1970’s, according to Eric Barnett, director of the University Museum. The painting by Lang is an example of a type of art called field painting and marking system.

“There was a ‘thing’ going on in the art world back then that had to do with marking systems and field paintings. This is an example of a marking system because there is a repetition of brush stroke and movement in it,” said Barnett. “The field paintings generally had a truly non-objective quality so they don’t appear to represent anything. It’s a presentation of space that exists in and of itself.”

Barnett stated these paintings are creations of ‘internally defined space’ with ‘no externally representative qualities. 

“In that regard, it is a universe in and of itself which then makes everything outside that universe negative space. Traditionally in painting that is objective in nature, the object is considered a spatial representation and within the painting, the area that is not the object is negative space,” said Barnett. “So, frequently even in paintings like the Mona Lisa, the negative space is filled with a landscape that has the qualities of being a space also, but because it is not the object of the painting, it becomes negative space.”

This is certainly the case with the Ferd Lang painting with has no frame. Rather the painting continues around the edge of the canvas, creating a frame of the negative space of the MUC Bookstore and any individual who happens to pass it by.

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