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Quibble

Harvard-trained and Chicago-based artist Himmelfarb has long been fascinated with the visual power of words and symbols. This drawing consists of a series of calligraphic shapes loosely based on Chinese or Korean seal script characters. The letters work together to form an “ideographic sequence” in seven horizontal lines with an empty space at the bottom suggesting room for a response. Even the title, Quibble, suggests a play on words or a pun. Within each letter there is tiny written text in a vertical orientation with all capital letters and no punctuation. Although it is in English and readable, it remains a kind of insider’s joke on the condition of the art world and, thus, serves primarily as a textural contrast. The pinkish paper tone takes on an almost flesh-like appearance, transmuting the letters into cartoonish people or creatures, further referencing ideograms, pictograms, and hieroglyphs.

John Himmelfarb
American, born 1946
Quibble
2000
Graphite and acrylic on pink paper
Sheet: 27 3/8 x 19 1/8 in. (69.5 x 48.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift from the collection of Nell and Paul Schneider, 2013.168

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