Works of Art

Henry Collection

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Untitled 2004
Mixed media
48 3/4 x 91 1/2 x 47 in. overall
Henry Art Gallery, commissioned with funds provided by William and Ruth True, and Patricia True, 2004.114

McMakin playfully complicates our expectations with this work: is it furniture, art, or architecture? A hybrid of staircase and daybed, this sculpture forms a fanciful continuation of the stairs that lead from the Henry’s café to the small gallery space (Microsoft Gallery) west of the rotunda. In keeping with the other commissions created at the time of McMakin’s 2004 survey at the Henry, this work calls our attention to the transformation the museum’s traditional architectural spaces have undergone since the Henry’s expansion in 1997.

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Double Hung Windows 2004
Mixed media
49 x 26 x 3 in. each panel
Henry Art Gallery, gift of the artist, 2008.184 A–B

In 2004, the Henry Art Gallery commissioned McMakin to produce several site-related works of art in conjunction with the exhibition, Roy McMakin: A Door Meant as Adornment. Double Hung Windows was designed as an installation suspended above the stairs leading to the middle level of the museum.  Characteristic of McMakin’s work, Double Hung Windows is both a play on words and a play on function.  A triple entendre, the piece includes two hanging windows that are double-hung and positioned perpendicular to each other in front of a single narrow window.  Installed in front of an actual window, this work calls attention to its status as a non-functional art object.  In the case of Double Hung Windows, the artwork forms an object within space rather than a void within an object – reversing the relationship of a window to its environment.

Roy McMakin (U.S. b. 1956)
A Child's Angel Food Cake 2006
Lambda prints
Dimensions variable
Henry Art Gallery, gift of James Harris and Carlos Garcia, 2009.4 1-6

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Muses in Niches (4 parts) 2004
Mixed media
Two are: 22 x 16 1/4 in.; two are: 22 1/4 x 20 3/8 x 16 1/4 in. overall
Henry Art Gallery, commissioned with funds provided by the Casteel Family Foundation, 2004.43.1–4

In conjunction with his 2003 survey exhibition Roy McMakin: A Door Meant as Adornment, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and exhibited at the Henry in 2004, the Henry commissioned McMakin to create new work in response to the architecture of the museum. The four sculptures in this series draw attention to the corner niches of the rotunda that once served as the original entrance to the museum.  Traditionally, niches often frame figurative sculptures mounted on a public edifice.  Though McMakin’s title refers to the ancient Greek goddesses of artistic inspiration, his Muses take on the shapes of domestic objects rather than human likenesses. By placing these familiar objects in an unlikely and symbolically fraught setting, the artist hints at his personal sources of inspiration, found in the details of everyday domestic life, and elevates them to an allegorical significance.

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
A Kountry Chair 2005
Oiled Holly wood
37 x 17 x 19 in. overall
Henry Art Gallery, gift of Marc Selwyn, 2008.212

McMakin upends iconic vernacular furniture with a familiar, yet highly-crafted and altered chair. Mismatched legs and spindles, as well as McMakin’s signature patch woodwork inlays, initially suggest ad-hoc repairs; but the piecework and precision of the through tenon joints that connect the legs to the seat attest to McMakin’s artisanship. The material choice, holly, reflects McMakin’s love of wordplay: the sculpture was commissioned by an actress for whom McMakin wanted to make a "true Holly wood chair."

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Muses in Niches (4 parts) 2004
Mixed media
Two are: 22 x 16 1/4 in.; two are: 22 1/4 x 20 3/8 x 16 1/4 in. overall
Henry Art Gallery, commissioned with funds provided by the Casteel Family Foundation, 2004.43.1–4

In conjunction with his 2003 survey exhibition Roy McMakin: A Door Meant as Adornment, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and exhibited at the Henry in 2004, the Henry commissioned McMakin to create new work in response to the architecture of the museum. The four sculptures in this series draw attention to the corner niches of the rotunda that once served as the original entrance to the museum.  Traditionally, niches often frame figurative sculptures mounted on a public edifice.  Though McMakin’s title refers to the ancient Greek goddesses of artistic inspiration, his Muses take on the shapes of domestic objects rather than human likenesses. By placing these familiar objects in an unlikely and symbolically fraught setting, the artist hints at his personal sources of inspiration, found in the details of everyday domestic life, and elevates them to an allegorical significance.

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Muses in Niches (4 parts) 2004
Mixed media
Two are: 22 x 16 1/4 in.; two are: 22 1/4 x 20 3/8 x 16 1/4 in. overall
Henry Art Gallery, commissioned with funds provided by the Casteel Family Foundation, 2004.43.1–4

In conjunction with his 2003 survey exhibition Roy McMakin: A Door Meant as Adornment, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and exhibited at the Henry in 2004, the Henry commissioned McMakin to create new work in response to the architecture of the museum. The four sculptures in this series draw attention to the corner niches of the rotunda that once served as the original entrance to the museum.  Traditionally, niches often frame figurative sculptures mounted on a public edifice.  Though McMakin’s title refers to the ancient Greek goddesses of artistic inspiration, his Muses take on the shapes of domestic objects rather than human likenesses. By placing these familiar objects in an unlikely and symbolically fraught setting, the artist hints at his personal sources of inspiration, found in the details of everyday domestic life, and elevates them to an allegorical significance.

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Untitled 2004
Digital diamond print mounted on foam core
22 x 60 in. overall
Henry Art Gallery, museum purchase, 2004.196

This untitled work simulates an ideal view out the transom window above the door to the entrance rotunda of the original 1927 Carl Gould-designed Henry Art Gallery building. The viewer perceives a partly cloudy sky seen through the transom’s wrought-iron grating, but is in fact looking at a trompe l’oeil digital print covering the actual transom.  The artifice is easy to miss until one pauses to grasp the real scene outside the door.  If McMakin’s print of the transom were removed from above the door, one would be looking out not at the sky but at the James Turrell Skyspace, a signature presence on the southwest corner of the museum. McMakin has long admired the Gould building.  He sought to recall its past by subtly re-imagining the original view out the Henry’s front door, a door leading out to a gentle grassy slope far different from the bustling urban campus landscape of today.

Learn more about this artwork

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Muses in Niches (4 parts) 2004
Mixed media
Two are: 22 x 16 1/4 in.; two are: 22 1/4 x 20 3/8 x 16 1/4 in. overall
Henry Art Gallery, commissioned with funds provided by the Casteel Family Foundation, 2004.43.1–4

In conjunction with his 2003 survey exhibition Roy McMakin: A Door Meant as Adornment, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and exhibited at the Henry in 2004, the Henry commissioned McMakin to create new work in response to the architecture of the museum. The four sculptures in this series draw attention to the corner niches of the rotunda that once served as the original entrance to the museum.  Traditionally, niches often frame figurative sculptures mounted on a public edifice.  Though McMakin’s title refers to the ancient Greek goddesses of artistic inspiration, his Muses take on the shapes of domestic objects rather than human likenesses. By placing these familiar objects in an unlikely and symbolically fraught setting, the artist hints at his personal sources of inspiration, found in the details of everyday domestic life, and elevates them to an allegorical significance.

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Untitled 2004
Graphite drawing on paper
10 7/8 x 13 7/8 in. (27.6 x 35.2 cm) sheet size; 14 x 17 x 7/8 in. (35.6 x 43.2 x 2.2 cm) frame size
Henry Art Gallery, gift of Marc Selwyn, 2008.276

Other

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Untitled 2002
Found chest, enamel paint
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Jones Residence Bed 2002
Sycamore
65 x 52 x 85 in.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Two Chests, One with No Knobs, One with Slightly Oversized Drawers 2001
Enamel paint on maple
112 x 58 x 21 in.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Jensen Residence, Vashon Island, Washington 2007
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Untitled from A Month of Drawings In The Cursive Style 2003
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Berro House Interior, Beverly Hills, California (SCHMIDT) 2000
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Jensen Residence, Vashon Island, Washington 2007
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Western Bridge, Seattle, Washington 2004
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Benedek House Model 2002
Claro walnut table
66 1/2 x 29 1/2 x 40 in.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
New Table 1985
Found table with lacquer on solid core plywood
29 1/2 x 19 x 27 1/2 in.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
A White Table and a Black Table, Each Depicted in Photographs and Sculpture 2007
(installation view, Quint Contemporary Art, La Jolla, California)
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1951)
Vases about Language and Redemption 2004
Ceramic
Dimensions variable
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Alphabet Sketches 1997
Painted wood
Dimensions variable
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
My Slatback Chair with Another One 2008
Enamel on maple, found chair
34 1/2 x 38 1/2 x 22 in.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Untitled (Curtain Painting) (closed) 2005
Enamel on maple, fabric
83 1/2 x 57 x 21 in.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Western Bridge, Seattle, Washington (view of door) 2004
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Jones Residence Bed (detail) 2002
Sycamore
65 x 52 x 85 in.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)

Untitled
(Curtain Painting) (open) 2005
Enamel on maple, fabric
83 1/2 x 57 x 21 in.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
How Do I Know How I Know? 1999
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
A Green Dresser (top view) 2006
Lambda type c-print
43 3/4 x 43 in.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Love & Loss 2005
Concrete benches and tables, live tree, illuminated rotating element, pathways
40 x 24 in.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Duffy Residence, Manhattan Beach, California 2005
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
A Green Dresser (back view) 2006
Lambda type c-print
43 3/4 x 43 in.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Lequita Faye Melvin (detail) 2003
Enamel on wood and wool upholstery
Dimensions variable
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Untitled 1985-86
Chromogenic color print
10 3/4 x 13 3/4 in.
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Roy McMakin (U.S., b. 1956)
Duffy Residence, Manhattan Beach, California (interior) 2005
Copyright credit: Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

The Artist

Seattle-based artist Roy McMakin is highly regarded for a body of work that combines sculptural, furniture-making, and architectural practices. Conceptually, however, McMakin disavows categorical distinctions. His work in both fine art and in architecture is an investigation of the physical and emotional effects the built environment has on the people inhabiting it. With an emphasis on exacting craftsmanship, his work exudes hand-made warmth through his choice of materials, idiosyncratic shapes, and details that playfully mix historical and contemporary elements. McMakin introduces twists on utility, ornament, and structure to create forms that resemble dressers, lamps, tables and other domestic objects but thwart a viewer’s or user’s expectations by defying functionality. Sometimes light-hearted and often humorous, McMakin’s work skews our preconceptions in order to remind us of the sway ordinary objects and spaces can hold over us.

Biography

Born in Lander, Wyoming, McMakin studied at the University of California at San Diego, where artists and critical thinkers Allan Kaprow, Eleanor Antin, Manny Farber, and others fostered artistic and conceptual experimentation. Initially trained as a painter, McMakin shifted his focus when he began creating furniture and incorporating it in his installations. These furniture pieces quickly drew commissions and in 1987 he launched Domestic Furniture Company. Informed by his research into logging and a desire to produce furniture near local lumber sources, McMakin set up a Seattle workshop in the early nineties. After a decade of design commissions, he returned to his artistic practice in 1997. Since then McMakin has frequently exhibited nationally, including his 2004 solo museum survey A Door Meant as Adornment which was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles and traveled to the Henry Art Gallery. McMakin has also achieved acclaimed architectural projects for public spaces such as the art venue Western Bridge and numerous domestic sites in the Northwest and California. He lives and works in Seattle.