Matthew Day Jackson’s Milestones

Published September 10, 2013

“This may be egotistical to say, but I think there will be some things seen for the first time,” says artist Matthew Day Jackson of his latest exhibition at Hauser & Wirth’s Chelsea space. Titled “Something Ancient, Something New, Something Stolen, Something Blue,” a play on the age-old wedding tradition, Jackson’s show is a marriage of disparate themes that expand to the far reaches of the universe (the surface of the moon is a recurring image). These dissimilar ideas collide in a show that includes everything from dangling flesh in the image of Michelangelo to savage landscapes to a rock sculpture fashioned via 3-D printer.

“What I like to do is lead with a hug and, as we get deeper and deeper in the work, it becomes a strangle hold, and I’ll crush the bones of your body,” says Jackson. “Some of the work is rough and smothering, like being buried alive.” It is an approach best described by what the artist deems as “the horriful.” Jackson’s interpretation of the morbid and grotesque always has an element of palatability, which contributes to the artist’s mounting success. Even the self-portrait of Jackson as a corpse suspended in a tree—the artist does a work depicting himself deceased every 10 years—exhibits a pleasing softness.

Though the show covers a lot of ground, it is evident in the artist’s walkthrough that every minute component is considered. It is the way Jackson pieces together the seemingly unrelated that is most astounding—a practice that extends to the artist’s personal life. “My son is over there,” Jackson says, pointing to the child among those gathered to preview the exhibit. “My wife and I don’t look like each other, but you can see a bit of both of us in our son.”


“SOMETHING ANCIENT, SOMETHING NEW, SOMETHING STOLEN, SOMETHING BLUE” IS ON VIEW AT HAUSER & WIRTH IN CHELSEA, NEW YORK, THROUGH OCTOBER 16.