Begun in the context of the late sixties, early on the work of Peter Downsbrough took on a very personal development, progressively opening up to new mediums, and capitalizing on technical inventions such as the digital camera. In order to understand the makings of this work which is less formalistic than a reflexion on language and constructed space, it is important to grasp its multiple aspects, from the wall pieces with film projections to mock-ups for books. Coinciding with the first retrospective show of Peter Downsbrough at the MAMCO in Geneva, this publication presents the wealth and amplitude of this artist's work.
The work of visual artist, photographer and film artist Peter Downsbrough (1940, New Bunswick, N.J.)
has had a major impact on the perception of art.The varied work of the artist-ranging from sculpture and books to photography,
video, and film-maintains a complex relationship with architecture and
typography, while also drawing on the achievements of the early avant-garde
(Bauhaus, De Stijl) and Minimal Art.
In terms of form, the work of Downsbrough
is highly rigorous and exhibits a powerful geometric sense, restricting itself
primarily to the use of line, plane, negative space (cutting away), and
delimitation. In addition to his spatial manipulations, the artist also has
a keen interest in place, as is evidenced in his cartographical works and
Downsbrough studied architecture and art. Around the mid-1960s, after several years of work and exploring materials, an evolution took place with resulted, in 1970, in the work with the Two Pipes (outside), Two Dowels (inside), and Two Lines (on paper). At the same time, he also started taking photographs to document these pieces. Buy taking photographs of "cuts" that already existed in the urban landscape. Some of these photographs were used in books, some appeared in magazines, but it wasn't until 1960 that they showed up in exhibitions. From 1977 on, Downsbrough realized several videos as well as audiotapes. A record was made in 1978 and released in 1982. In 1980, on the Spectacolor Board on Times Square, N.Y., he realized a piece, a 30 second spot shown once every hour for four days and documented it in a short film, "7 come 11". The work with maquettes as a means of exploring space and structure started around 1983. The first commissioned public work was a wall piece realized in Rennes, France, 1990. Today, all these disciplines occupy the field of his activities.