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Red Plank

A work made of wood, fiberglass and lacquer.

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  • A work made of wood, fiberglass and lacquer.




John McCracken
American, 1934-2011

About this artwork

John McCracken was a pioneering figure of West Coast Minimalism in the 1960s, when many California artists were concerned with issues of light and color. Having begun his career as a painter, he moved toward a more object-based aesthetic, making abstract works in the form of basic geometric shapes such as cubes or quadratic volumes. In 1966 he developed what became his signature sculptural forms: tall, leaning planks made of wood, coated in fiberglass, and then painted with a highly finished lacquer. Striking in their monolithic simplicity and characterized by pure, monochromatic surfaces, McCracken’s handcrafted “planks,” which rest on the floor and lean against the wall, successfully blur the boundary between painting and sculpture.

John McCracken is considered a Minimalist sculptor with a singularly spiritual bent. He lacquered basic geometric volumes to lustrous effect, and California car culture often motivated his color choices (cars were “mobile color chips,” he once said), but he strove to make objects that were also “hallucinatory” or “other-wordly.” From 1966 forward McCracken’s signature form was the vividly monochrome “plank,” of which Red Plank is a prime example—stately, monolithic, yet leaning casually against the gallery wall.These sleek sculptures exist “between two worlds,” the artist explained, “the floor representing the physical world of standing objects, trees, cars, buildings, human bodies … and the wall representing the world of the imagination, illusionist painting space, [and] human mental space.”


Currently Off View


Contemporary Art


John McCracken


Red Plank




Wood, fiberglass and lacquer


244.1 × 56.6 × 7.9 cm (96 1/8 × 22 1/4 × 3 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Twentieth-Century Purchase Fund

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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