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June 29, 2006

Room #2, The Mirrored Room


I couldn't pass up the opportunity to comment on the reference, made below, to Greek born sculptor, painter, performance artist and photographer Lucas Samaras.

Room #2, 1966, later retitled The Mirrored Room, is the first piece of art I remember seeing. It takes up little room in the gallery and is described just as "Mirrors on wooden frame," along with the dimensions, 96” x 96” x 120".

But take off your shoes and go in, two at a time, and you've entered an enormous palace of a place. A place, much more than mirrors on a wooden frame, where you see yourself reflected countless times in millions of ways and where you somehow get to know the person in there with you.

According to Samaras, “The idea for a completely mirror-covered cube room occurred to me around 1963 when I incorporated the idea into a short story, Killman. The reason I used a cube rather than any other geometric shape was to minimize the number of planes that would reflect the space enclosed within them but still give a convincing illusion of perpendicular extension in every direction…"

As a child, I believed in the reflections and thought I could walk straight in any direction.  I learned to keep my arms outstretched, and paid attention to the edges of the floor, where I could see the wall rising forever upward.

But the most fascinating part of The Mirrored Room was at the center.  There, sat two items I'd seen in perhaps every room I'd ever been in.

"I included a table and chair, two important objects that can be found in a room…A table and a chair for someone to sit down and imagine or think or discover,” said Samaras.

Indeed, these were normal, comforting, regular-day items. But mirrored and in this otherworldly place that distorted everything in sight, and sight went on for miles, a table and chair were suddenly very interesting.  They gave the possibility of finding stillness in a crazy, closed in room. 

I never did, but I always wanted to pull the chair out, have a seat, and with my elbows propped up on the table, look up at the ceiling and see into infinity.

Today I called the Albright to see if The Mirrored Room was currently on display (it is in the permanent collection but sometimes goes to storage when other exhibits come through).  “Yes,” the woman on the phone told me, “It’s here. Are you coming by today?”

“Well, I hadn’t really thought about it,” I said. “But perhaps later on, I will.”

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Comment on This Article Here! Room #2, The Mirrored Room:

I first discovered a complete mirrored room with table and chair at the Albright Knox museum about 15 years ago. The last time i was there ( 2 years ago ) i couldnt find it.

Posted by: John Kenyon | Jun 30, 2006 10:16:24 PM

Just took my kids and nephews to see the room (ages 6-10) and they loved it!! It took great restraint for them not to touch anything. The guard looked like he was going to have a nervous breakdown as he watched them!

Posted by: Diane | Jul 3, 2006 12:57:20 PM

Does this room have anything to do with puerto rico? I'm doing a project for school and it keeps coming up on my search for puerto rican art but it doesn't say anything about it's history.

Posted by: katie | Apr 21, 2008 4:58:00 PM

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