Addie Herder, White Machine, Collage, 1961-65, 13 ½ x 19 inches, Photo courtesy of Pavel Zoubok Fine Art, NY
I first saw Addie Herder’s work at Pavel Zoubok Gallery, then located on 23rd Street, in 2012. From that moment on, I was hooked. When considering a work of art to write about for this blog, I remembered the feeling I got from seeing an Addie Herder collage construction. The bigness of her smallness. Herder bridges that gap between collage and Pop. As I kept trying to hold onto the images in my mind, I slowly understood the specificity of their illusiveness, how excitingly baffling they are.
The two works I have chosen are from the “Machines” series, White Machine, 1961-65 and Pari-Mach, 1967. In their restrained combinations of ephemera, they each engage in a fluid dialogue with the essence of circuit boards, traffic patterns, engines, electrical wiring — the tools of organization for a world that is too chaotic to hold still. I think of the films by Jacques Tati, his quiet rage at the machine. In Mon Oncle, 1958, a false sense of calm is offered by mechanized design that then devolves into chaos with the addition of human interaction.
Addie Herder, Pari-Mach, 1967, Collage 13 ½ x 11 3/8 inches, Photo courtesy of Pavel Zoubok Fine Art, NY
Addie Herder holds still for a moment so the viewer can pause, breathe and embrace the tiny familiar fragments ordered and controlled just long enough to be observed. As Tati depicts in the 1971 film, Traffic, the universal codes, signals, icons, arrows and directives eventually create misunderstanding and mayhem. Herder has harnessed the mayhem of machines into a quiet serenade of suggestion, a whisper rather than a command. Hers are the machines that we can’t hold onto, fleeting signs of our human desire to mark which way to go, pathways of thoughts, all described by bits of paper, film, matchsticks, flotsam and jetsam.
On a personal note, I have used cardboard packaging as a substantial source of color and structure in my studio work. It was to my delight to learn that Addie and her husband, Milton Herder, designed boxes for products, such as Jell-O, which found their way into more than one of my large collages without any knowledge on my part, of their origin. In the essay Intimate Scale, The Art of Addie Herder, by Alfred Allan Lewis, he writes, “ The advertising art at which the Herders excelled would become an intrinsic part of the Pop Art movement a decade later.” And of my own work decades after that. Like Jell-O, Addie lives on.
Lisa Hoke, Zip It, 2018, Cardboard packaging, felt, wire, foil, fabric, glue and hardware, 156 x 84 x 10 inches, Photo courtesy of Pavel Zoubok Fine Art, NY
Lisa Hoke is a New York based artist. She recently completed a commission at the Nuvola Lavazza Headquarters in Torino, Italy.