Richard Hull Halls (1991)
Oil/Wax on Linen 48.0 x 60.0 x 0.0
University Club of Chicago

Hull halls 1991

Hull is an instructor at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago.

Audio Description


Halls (1991) is an abstract work of a dissected building with its interior levels and layers flattened onto the composition.

The structure almost completely fills the canvas and only two sections of a dark brown background are exposed in between the three rooftops, creating a compact sense of space and limited illusion of depth. Like a dollhouse whose two sides open on a hinge, this building allows for the viewer to survey every illogical angle, unrealistic crevice, and dead-end hallway.

A thin white line runs horizontally across the center of the building, operating as a simplified representation of the floor that separates two levels of the interior. Much of the interior is abstracted to simplified shapes, but Hall scatters the building with recognizable forms.

In the top half of the center portion of the structure, three different slender vertical areas contain large hanging chandeliers, which allude to empty formal rooms or halls. References to figures are throughout, and the right portion of the building contains multiple disembodied figures.

On the lower level of this section, a silhouette of half a figure’s head and torso is outlined in light yellow paint. One level above that figure, a pale blue elongated oval could be an abstract profile of a head and nose.

The strange shape is enhanced by a single black horizontal oval, which could imply an eye. Is this a disembodied abstract profile of a head gazing out at the rooms and crevices of the building, or has Hull created a play with shapes and lines that provokes the viewer to seek out recognizable symbols in an unrecognizable world?

Angles also play an important role in suggesting depth and intricate rooms, but also enhance the illogical twists of the building. The juxtaposition of space, angles, lines and flat shapes creates an unreal structure that exists on both the surface of the picture plane, or canvas, and offers an illusion of depth in the image.

Halls demonstrates Richard Hull’s career-long interest in abstracting architecture, creating complex color relations, and rendering a world that is both familiar and foreign.

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