Wedding - Zoey Frank
Zoey Frank’s Wedding (2018) was inspired by Théodore Géricault’s celebrated French Romantic painting The Raft of the Medusa (1819), in which the last survivors of a shipwreck wave desperately to a ship on the horizon.
Frank has always been struck by the scale and ambition of Géricault’s painting and by the pyramid of closely packed human figures that he depicts surging towards the horizon. Here, she recasts the composition as the moment in a Jewish wedding reception where the bride and groom are lifted into the air.
In Géricault’s painting, salvation is represented by a ship just barely glimpsed on the horizon. In Frank’s painting, the bride being lifted up by the wedding guests forms the pinnacle of the composition. The ecstatic figures celebrating the wedding are contrasted with the apathetic and inebriated guests in the foreground.
Although Wedding started with one art historical reference, formal considerations became more important to Frank as she continued to work on the painting. She looked to early Renaissance painters like Giotto and Piero della Francesca for their handling of light, form and space. The wedding takes place in a light-filled, compressed space, in which patterns both cover the walls and seem to emerge from them.
The painting shifted drastically over the year and a half Frank worked on it. Allowing large compositional changes throughout the painting process led to a thickly encrusted surface, in which remnants of what the painting had been in earlier stages remain visible to the viewer.
Recently, Frank has begun to introduce some abstract elements into her work. “As compositional problems come up, I’ve started using arbitrary planes of color rather than objects to resolve them,” she says. “This has freed me up to make more intuitive changes while I’m painting. As I make changes to balance out the composition, the space of the painting becomes fragmented in a way that interests me.”