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Blue Tattoo, 1993 (detail). Silkscreen printed pigment on suede and dotted Swiss fabric, border light, projector, spotlight, motorized bull, galvanized pan, camera, and time delay relays. Dimensions vary with installation. Collection of the artist. Blue Tattoo, 1993 (detail). Silkscreen printed pigment on suede and dotted Swiss fabric, border light, projector, spotlight, motorized bull, galvanized pan, camera, and time delay relays. Dimensions vary with installation. Collection of the artist. Blue Tattoo, 1993. Silkscreen printed pigment on suede and dotted Swiss fabric, border light, projector, spotlight, motorized bull, galvanized pan, camera, and time delay relays. Dimensions vary with installation. Collection of the artist.
Blue Tattoo, 1993 (detail). Silkscreen printed pigment on suede and dotted Swiss fabric, border light, projector, spotlight, motorized bull, galvanized pan, camera, and time delay relays. Dimensions vary with installation. Collection of the artist.
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Blue Tattoo, 1993 (detail). Silkscreen printed pigment on suede and dotted Swiss fabric, border light, projector, spotlight, motorized bull, galvanized pan, camera, and time delay relays. Dimensions vary with installation. Collection of the artist.
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Blue Tattoo, 1993. Silkscreen printed pigment on suede and dotted Swiss fabric, border light, projector, spotlight, motorized bull, galvanized pan, camera, and time delay relays. Dimensions vary with installation. Collection of the artist.
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Dennis Oppenheim

Blue Tattoo is a complex installation of mechanical and physical parts. The centerpiece is a small mechanized bull engraved with a heart on its shoulder. A blue light illuminates the heart, while the bull paws the ground with its leg. The bull is connected to a series of three teapots on hotplates, which are filled with water and attached to rubber tubing that shoots steam into the bull’s nostrils.
 
The “blue tattoo” of the pulsing, animated bull is projected—via video camera focused on the bull’s shoulder—onto an oversized man’s work glove, which was fabricated in collaboration with the FWM. Suspended at a distance from the bull and close to a bank of red lights, the glove is altered from its coarse suede and heavy canvas prototype, and made instead from a combination of soft suede and delicate dotted Swiss fabric. The text, “Mo-mo-mo-mother” and “Si-sis-sis-ter,” is printed on the glove, a reference to dialogue from the film Chinatown.
 
This playful and enigmatic installation is characteristic of Oppenheim’s history as an inventor of his own artistic tableaux. There is a relentless quality to the beating of the bull’s heart—and Oppenheim is clearly interested in the symbols of the hear beyond mere biology.

Bio
American, born 1938, lives in New York City
Dennis Oppenheim earned his BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland (1965). In 1966, he moved to New York City, where, in 1968, he was given his first one-person show (John Gibson Gallery) and included in the Sculpture Annual at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Oppenheim has not been wed to one medium over his career, but rather has moved freely between media to convey his ideas, employing conceptual art, earth works, performance, sculpture, and video. His work has been the subject of many exhibitions, both national and international, including one-person shows at the XXIV Bienal São Paulo in Brazil (1998), the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale in South Africa (1997), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1997), and the University Art Museum at the University of California at Berkeley (1993).