Image Universe: Water As Material

Alongside our thematic series on living with water, we’re making a splash with a new Image Universe feature.

Editor's Note

Artists have often looked to water for inspiration. In conjunction with our series exploring the importance and power of water in our lives, we’ve selected a group of works that show water being used as a material for art—whether by trying to contain it, mimicking its likeness, or embracing its presence in public space.

Tony Feher, It Seemed a Beautiful Day, 2002. Plastic bottles with plastic caps, water, food dye, wire, and rope. Courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Photo by Adam Reich.

Roni Horn, Untitled (“ was a mask, but the real face was identical to the false one.”), 2009-10. Solid cast glass. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, New York.

Installation view of Glenn Kaino’s Tank, 2014, at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans. Live corals (green star polyps, pulsing xenia, yellow polyps, acroporas, mushrooms, and sinularia), clear casts, rocks, water tanks, water aquarium system management, and lights. Courtesy the artist and Honor Fraser, Los Angeles.

Installation view of Leandro Erlich’s Swimming Pool, 1999, at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan. Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.

Installation view of Maurizio Cattelan’s Daddy Daddy, 2008, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.

Christopher Saucedo’s “Water Bottle Buoy, New Sculpture that Floats” is on view through January 8, 2017, at Good Children Gallery (4037 St. Claude Avenue) in New Orleans.

Installation view of Rachel Whiteread’s Water Tower, 1998, in New York. Courtesy the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.

S&S Club (Sibylle Peretti & Stephen Paul Day), Wetland, 2010. Mixed-media installation (detail). Courtesy the artists.

John Cage performing Water Walk, 1960, on the TV show I’ve Got a Secret.

George Brecht, Score for Drip Music, 1959. Courtesy the Fondazione Bonotto, Molvena, Italy.

Pat Steir, Everlasting Waterfall, 1989. Oil on canvas. Courtesy the Brooklyn Museum.

Bruce Nauman, Self-Portrait as a Fountain, 1966-67. Courtesy the artist and Sperone Westwater, New York.

Installation view of Random International’s Rain Room, 2012, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Ana Mendieta, Untitled (Silueta Series), 1978. Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83. Photo by Wolfgang Volz. Image via the artists’ website.

Jason DeCaires Taylor, Inertia, 2011. Courtesy the MUSA Collection, Punta Nizuc, Mexico.

Installation view of Lynda Benglis’ The Wave (The Wave of the World), 1983-84, in City Park, New Orleans. Courtesy the artist and Cheim & Read, New York.

Installation view of Olafur Eliasson’s Waterfall, 2016, at the Château de Versailles, France. Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York. Photo by Anders Sune Berg.


Photo Essay