March 14-July 26, 2020

Contemporary artist Cauleen Smith creates a new work of art–a video that premieres at the San Diego Museum of Art that is inspired by one of the most important works in the Museum’s collection, Juan Sánchez Cotán’s Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber (ca. 1602).

Sánchez Cotán is considered not only among the first practitioners of the still-life painting genre, but also arguably one of its greatest.

In her video installation for Juan Sánchez Cotán and Cauleen Smith: Mystical Time and Deceptive Light, Cauleen Smith engages the challenges of time, space, light, and the fiction of the ordinary by responding directly to Sánchez-Cotán with a new work of her own.

“First there is the cryptic, celestial selection and arrangement of objects. Learning that hanging fruit from string was standard practice did not undermine the math and magic of Cotán’s suspensions for me. Then there is the light, a direct shadow-making light cascades onto each object slightly differently.  It wasn’t a suspension of time, or a capturing of a moment; the painting was in many different moments and different times…”  -Cauleen Smith

Cauleen Smith (b. 1967) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work reflects upon the everyday possibilities of the imagination. Operating in multiple materials and arenas, Smith roots her work firmly within the discourse of mid-twentieth-century experimental film. Drawing from structuralism, third world cinema, and science fiction, she makes things that deploy the tactics of activism in service of ecstatic social space and contemplation.

On the faculty at California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles, Smith received her MFA from the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television. Smith’s films, an installation, and performance work were showcased at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019. Smith’s many awards include the Rockefeller Media Arts Award, Independent Spirit Someone to Watch Award, a Rauschenberg Residency, Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts in Film and Video 2016, and was the 2016 inaugural recipient of the Ellsworth Kelly Award.


Featured: Juan Sánchez Cotán, Still life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber, ca. 1602. Oil on canvas. Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam. 1945.43