Dust of Ages
Oil on board
17 x 21 x 0.75 in.
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation
We can, then, start afresh to be transformed in the Flux . . .
To place oneself in the realm of the Flux affords joy and liberation . . .
I chose Flux because it is free, limitless and living.
A free spirit in art—as well as a housepainter by trade and former champion swimmer—Los Angeles artist Knud Merrild developed a unique mode of automatist painting in 1942 that he called “Flux.” Guided by intuition and courting chance, he would pour, splatter, and swirl viscous paint onto a watery surface, which he then would turn and twist until he had achieved the results he desired. Dust of Ages, a prime example of Merrild’s Flux mode of expression, revels in accidental effects and the mutability of glistening paint. Against an earth-colored ground, thick puddles of tarry black and amphibian green, interspersed with splashes of red, congeal into amorphous nodules to anchor the drips, whorls, and slivers of pigment in which they rest.
In its emulation of motion, Dust of Ages gives a nod to the Heraclitean notion of constant change that Merrild embraced, even as it evokes a swimmer’s delight in liquidity and a craftsman’s regard for the mesmeric appeal of gelatinous oils. Additionally, as its title suggests, it acknowledges cosmic processes of growth, death, and decay, a theme that gripped the artist’s imagination, as can be seen in other like-minded titles that he gave to his works: Cosmorama, Fossiliferous Flux, Embryonic Nostalgia, Meteoric Twilight, and Lunar Fragments.
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