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Gary Hume RA, American Tan XXVIII 1
Gary Hume RA, American Tan XXVIII 1

American Tan XXVIII 1, 2008

Gary Hume RA (b. 1962)

RA Collection: Art

American Tan XXVIII 1 is part of a large series of the same title which includes paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints. The works in the American Tan series are thematically related, but Hume insists they also exist autonomously. The series was begun around 2006 as a response to Hume's annual summers in upstate New York where he maintains a residence. Its title, like this painting, has many layers of meaning and interpretation. While the title alludes to the favourite American pastime, it also literally refers to a colour of tights worn by cheerleaders, a shiny brown that makes one's legs look tan. In addition, American Tan serves as social commentary regarding the influence of U.S. policy and culture.

American Tan XXVIII 1, despite its simplified composition and limited use of colour, is able to stand autonomously because it conveys each of the series messages while constructing its own narrative. The individual shapes are distinct from each other, yet they merge to create an overall form. This form, composed by using only five colours, may seem unrecognizable and even haphazard yet they also have a sense of familiarity. The yellow, purple, and brown seem to move against the blocks of mauve and blue and eventually the image of the leaping figure emerges. Outside the context of the series, however, one may not realize that the figure represents a cheerleader because unlike other works, the tell-tale pompoms are not present.

The cheerleader serves as a symbol that simultaneously represents innocence and its loss. In this instance, Hume achieves this symbolism by removing the context of the figure. He takes images from books and magazines and through blowing-up, zooming-in and careful cropping, places the figure in an indistinguishable moment in time. The figure is unaware of being captured in this narrative and as a result the viewer becomes a voyeur.

Hume often uses gloss household paints on an aluminium surface. He works within the limitations of the medium, creating compositions that are flat, lacking the three-dimensional qualities of the human figure. The folds of the leotard for example are reduced to shapes without any shading to give them overlap or depth.

Gary Hume was born in 1962. He graduated from Goldsmith's College in 1988. In 1999, he represented Britain in the Venice Biennale. American Tan XXVIII 1 was presented to the Royal Academy as Hume's Diploma work in 2008.

Object details

American Tan XXVIII 1
Gary Hume RA (b. 1962)
Object type
Copyright owner
Gloss paint on aluminium

1600 mm x 2000 mm x 22 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by Gary Hume RA accepted 29 April 2008
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