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Three Serrated Kings

Published April 24, 2020

Mary Johnson, Three Serrated Kings: Benign, from Traps and Cages: Impending Disasters (20th c). Acrylic on wood, wire mesh. FSU MoFA 99.12

Three Serrated Kings is a 20th century work created by Mary Johnson. This vibrant piece contains three knives, of equal proportion, encaged in a wire mesh. From left to right, the colors pink, yellow and orange differentiate each knife, and complement the bright blue color used on the outer rim of the cage. The thin, white mesh is used only on the front side of piece and is used in juxtaposition with the remaining open sides. The dimensions of the cage itself provide enough room for each knife to be positioned with the blade pointed up.

The manipulation of the paint along the outer wood, in accordance with the geometric shapes of the box and knives, demonstrate the artist’s efforts to emphasize  different forms. The strategic placement of the straight, wooden panels draw attention to the jagged edge of each blade. The man-made, serrated edge of the blade as it relates to the organic surfaces of the wood creates an interesting relationship between textures. Like the other pieces within the exhibition, Johnson’s work is open to audience interpretation. As a work of contemporary art, the visual characteristics of Three Serrated Kings build off one another, to create a dynamic work of form and texture

Exhibition Notes:

Within the WJB gallery, Three Serrated Kings was intended to be displayed on the first pedestal in a series of four, along the right-hand wall. Medium in size, this work was chosen to be on the perimeter, in order to frame the works directly to its left, Inner Strength and Rosenthal Bag. Of the four objects in this row, this piece is the only to display color. The monochromatic nature of the surrounding Rosenthal Bag and Untitled works accentuates this use of color. Additionally, the strategic use of color in Three Serrated Kings draws attention to the contrasting shapes and forms of the work as a whole.