Life of a Cube

While the process was similar to the way he painted in two-dimensions, the three-dimensionality of the cube introduced new dynamics.

All of Baumgardner’s cubes begin as wooden blocks. While the large cubes are hollow, the Found Cubes are a solid block, cut from 4×4 lumber.

Baumgardner applied the priming layer, either his “mud” or gesso, along with base colors to create a preparatory surface on the block.

“While I am working a cube, only three of the sides are visible to me at any given time; each rotation brings the experience of not knowing the other three sides, which frees me from control so I can get out of the way to be guided by the piece.”

Matthew Baumgardner

Then, he would proceed to layer the cube with paint, automatic drawing, and more sculptural elements such as the raised grids. This process would build layers, which he would sand or carve into, creating additional depth.

In addition to the “mud” pigments, which Baumgardner used on all his cubes, he added gouache and marker to the smaller found cubes, exhibited alongside the cubes in progress in this case.

A page from his journal showing his ‘intuitive mathematics’ process.