Sarah Cain’s energetic installation jumps the bounds of a 45-foot-long painted canvas to integrate a variety of surfaces in the East Building’s Atrium. Extending onto the nearby protective sculpture enclosures and well covers, Cain’s painted elements surround and complement the canvas to create a dynamic installation that encourages movement and close looking. To the canvas, the artist applied sculptural elements of torn, cut, sewn, draped, and beaded sections, with additions of silver and gold leaf and paint rollers, inviting discovery and drawing from wide-ranging sources. The title of My favorite season is the fall of the patriarchy is lifted from a coffee mug. In this installation, Cain generates a flow of abstract moments between hard-edged shapes that traverse an atmospheric spray-painted backdrop to create a riotously colored work dynamically playing between painting and sculpture.
Initially, Cain had planned to paint directly on the temporary walls and enclosures on site. When the pandemic prevented her travel, she adapted her approach. After painting seven eight-by-seven-foot canvases in her Los Angeles studio, she then shipped them to the National Gallery, where they were installed across the long wall. The artist also oversaw (via video) National Gallery staff who painted three protective sculpture enclosures and three planter well covers. These structural elements surround and complement the painting, which floats in an energized arena animated by Cain’s bright palette.