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Black Kites

Gabriel Orozco, Mexican, born 1962

Made in New York, New York, United States, North and Central America


Graphite on skull

8 1/2 × 5 × 6 1/4 inches (21.6 × 12.7 × 15.9 cm)

© Gabriel Orozco

Curatorial Department:
Contemporary Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift (by exchange) of Mr. and Mrs. James P. Magill, 1997

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death [x]   memento mori [x]   skull [x]  

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During a long convalescence, Gabriel Orozco covered a human skull with a graphite checkerboard that bends and swells over its bony contours. The skull can readily be understood as a memento mori, or reminder of death—a symbol common in the European still-life tradition as well as in the visual traditions of Orozco’s native Mexico. Yet Orozco’s sinewy network of lines brings the skull to life again, suggesting the thoughts that once filled this shell, or the sensate skin that covered it. Working at the interface between two-dimensional drawing and a three-dimensional object, Orozco draws attention to relationships between a surface and an interior world.