The Crocker Art Museum is presenting an exhibition featuring 24 works by Southern California artist Daniel Douke in “Daniel Douke: Bytes of Reality,” on view to July 17.
Douke’s work involves the photorealistic depiction of manufactured packaging—merging painting with sculpture and challenging our assumptions about reality and artifice.
Douke responds to everyday experience by rendering the transient packaging of consumer products, particularly the box. By making these discarded boxes art, he gives them permanence and value.
At first glance, Douke’s boxes appear to be simply found objects. They are anything but. These are paintings that are rendered in exquisite detail, with text, packaging tape, smudges, and dents all carefully observed and painted.
Even the canvas is stretched and shaped to perfection. Yet, the backs of these paintings offer clear evidence that this is very traditional work — with wooden stretchers, canvas, and gesso all exposed.
Born in 1943, Douke received his bachelor’s and master’s from California State University in Los Angeles. His photorealistic renderings of Southern California swimming pools first brought him notoriety in the mid-1970s, but it was at this moment that his concerns shifted from pictorial composition and the application of paint to volume and form.
He made his first cardboard-box paintings in 1977, referencing a variety of goods ranging from automotive products to foodstuffs.
In the 1990s, he returned to contemporary products and found quintessential subject matter in the brand-new packaging and slick graphics of computer boxes. The iMac, especially, had become a colorful high-tech fashion statement. Its packaging and promotion fascinated Douke, communicating a truth about reality, which he felt seemed to epitomize the era and “its promise of a technological utopian dream come true.”
The Crocker Art Museum was one of the first art museums in the U.S. and is now one of the leading art institutions in California. Established in 1885, the museum features one of the country’s finest collections of Californian art, exceptional holdings of master drawings, a comprehensive collection of international ceramics, as well as European, Asian, African, and Oceanic art.
The Crocker is located at 216 O St. in Downtown Sacramento. Museum hours are 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Tuesday–Wednesday; 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Thursdays; 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Friday–Sunday. Every Third Sunday of the month is “Pay What You Wish Sunday” sponsored by Bank of America.
For more information call 916-808-7000 or visit crockerartmuseum.org.