John Morris

by Adam Fuss

John Morris, Untitled, 1993−1997, ink on watercolor paper, 10¼ × 7⅛ inches. All images courtesy D'Amelio Terras.

The art historian Carl Schusler’s vast archives document the decoding of patterns originating in the culture of the Paleolithic. Painted, scratched, woven, carved, and tattooed, these patterns represent statements of kinship and illustrations of genealogical history connecting the wearer or maker to ancestors (thus providing identity) and ultimately to the great genetic chain of being.

They survived over thousands of years, across all continents and in many cases outlived the cultures that preserved them, pattern as an unconscious language, whose origins and meanings were long forgotten. It was somehow preserved in custom and tradition.

The anthropologist Edmund Carpenter describes art as a great echo chamber reverberating with ancient images—these are the rooms in Queens, New York where a man is intensely focused in intuitive search, fascinated by patterns and systems. Are these drawings contemporary tartans and heraldic symbols commemorating corporate identities headed by ancestral beings wearing the transparent masks of CEOs? I believe so.

—Adam Fuss

John Morris, Bob Noyce Tribute, (Bob Noyce is an Intel executive), 1998, wax crayon and ink on paper, 10¼ × 7 inches.

John Morris, Untitled, 1997, wax crayon, ink, graphite on paper, 10¼ × 14⅛ inches.

Ancient civilizations
Geometric patterns
Winter 1999
The cover of BOMB 66