The Folding Screen by Ursula Helman

BOMB 32 Summer 1990
032 Summer 1990

Discover MFA Programs in Art and Writing

The decoration and making of folding screens is a specific strain within the larger tradition of painting. Screens allow the artists the freedom and responsibility of making their own walls and the viewers the opportunity to shape their own environments. The contemporary artists’ use of this vehicle at once reinforces a long tradition while at the same time expressing a contemporary attitude. It is for this reason that the decoration and making of screens can provide such a wonderful and illuminating experience.

Contemporary screens expand our definition of art. They are not pieces of furniture on which we toss our clothing. They are almost always assertive, and like paintings, they are expressive objects which need to be interpreted and studied.

—Ursula Helman

Lucas Samaras Bomb 034 Sm

Lucas Samaras, Screen, 1967, painted wood, five panels, each 59¼ × 23¼ × ⅞ inches.

32 Helman 2 Dine  Body

Jim Dine, Landscape Screen (Sky, Sun, Grass, Snow, Rainbow), 1969, acrylic on canvas mounted on wood panels, five panels, each 73¾ × 18 inches. Courtesy Pace Gallery.

Ed Ruscha Bomb 032 Sm

Ed Ruscha, Remember and Forget, 1986, lacquered wood in relief, five panels, 78¾ × 149⅜ inches. Edition of 12.

Roy Lichtenstein Bomb 32

Roy Lichtenstein, Screen with Brushstrokes, 1986 lacquered wood in relief with silver leaf, five panels, 94¼ × 135 inches. Edition of 12. Courtesy Lana Jokel, Lacquer Editions.

Helen Frankenthaler Bomb 32

Helen Frankenthaler, Gateway 8/12, 1988, three panel bronze and print, 81 × 107 × 4½ inches. Photograph © 1988 by Kevin Ryan. Courtesy Andre Emmerich Gallery.

32 Helman 6 Hockney  Body

David Hockney, Caribbean Tea Time (front), 1987, lithograph, screen print, collage, stencil, folding screen, five panels, each 84 5/8 × 134 1/2”. Photograph ©1989 Steven Sloman. Courtesy Tyler Graphics, Ltd.

Jack Youngerman Bomb 034 Sm

Jack Youngerman, Tabriz, 1980, enamel on aluminum, two panels, 72 × 124 inches. Photo © 1981 by Al Mozell.

Jim Jacobs Bomb 032

Jim Jacobs, Surprise Valley, 1985, lacquer on board, five panels, 64 × 74 inches.

Ellsworth Kelly Bomb 32

Ellsworth Kelly, La Combe II, 1951, oil on wood, nine panels, each 39 × 5 inches. Photo © 1990 by Steven Sloman.

32 Helman 10 Clemente  Body

Francesco Clemente, Paravent, 1982, watercolor on paper, four panels, 72 × 93 inches.

32 Helman 11 Bartlett  Body

Jennifer Bartlett, To The Island (detail), 1982, enamel on mahogany, seven panels, 72 × 131¾ inches. Photo ©1982 by Geoffrey Clements. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery.

Chair and Ottoman by Roy Lichtenstein
Roy Lichtenstein, Brushstroke Chair and Ottoman, 1988, painted wood, Chair, 70¾ × 17¾ × 24 inches; Ottoman, 23 × 20⅓ × 16½ inches. Courtesy of Leo Castelli.
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Originally published in

BOMB 32, Summer 1990

Featuring interviews with Barbet Schroeder, Blue Man Group, Jeanne Silverthorne, Angélica Gorodischer, Richard Nelson, Ed Lachman, Alain Kirili, Griselda Gambaro, and Deb Margolin.

Read the issue
032 Summer 1990