Sam Falls, Untitled (Topanga, CA, Umbrella 17), 2013. Nylon, 58 × 58 × 1 in. (147.3 × 147.3 × 2.5 cm). Gift of Matthew Dipple. Courtesy the artist. © Sam Falls
Sam Falls’s artistic production is distinguished by the exploratory combination of painting, photography, and sculpture with natural phenomena––from the pooling of rain to the bleaching of the sun. Connected to historical movements such as land art, minimalism, and process art, Falls’s practice hinges on duration and perception as they are expressed and embodied in nature and art.
Untitled (Topanga, CA, Umbrella 17) displays the fabric of an umbrella removed from its support and pinned to the wall. The colorful pie-shaped sections form a simple hexagon, bringing to mind minimalist painting, the sculptural readymade, and a pop sensibility. To make this work, Falls first cut off umbrella panels and exposed one group of them to the sun for a prolonged period. He then interspersed these with the remainder of the panels, which had been protected from the sun. Brilliant red and deep blue panels thus sit next to their pale and faded counterparts, generating a subtle modulation of color. Like much of Falls’s hybrid production, Untitled (Topanga, CA, Umbrella 17) possesses a marked casualness and accessibility while touching on rich and deep topics such as the art object’s relationship to time and change, viewer perception, and artistic intentionality.
This work joins sculptures in the ICA/Boston collection by artists such as Rachel Harrison, Charles LeDray, and Sherrie Levine who are also engaged with the history of the readymade and assemblage. Untitled (Topanga, CA, Umbrella 17) brings this tradition to an exploration of the perceptual and constructive processes of nature and the environment.