Crystal Skull

Tony Oursler, 1957

Crystal Skull

Tony Oursler 1957


Crystal Skull 1999 is a sound-based work inspired by Oursler's investigations into optics in which he intones about the nature of the lens both in terms of the human eye and the camera. References are made to blind spots, flashes and to the camera obsura, an early device used by artists to assist them in the creation of pictorial compositions. His study of this took him back to the Middle Ages and its use by magicians. The camera obscura's power to instil both excitement and fear partly informs this work. Oursler's interest in Dutch still life painting and, in particular, the Vanitas which symbolically explores physical and psychological aspects of death, is another important element in the work's creation.

Object Name

Crystal Skull

Creators Name

Tony Oursler

Date Created



: 68.6cm x 56cm
Crated: 840mm x 1500mm

accession number


Collection Group

fine art


On Display

[G17] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 17
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Purchased through the Contemporary Art Society Special Collection Scheme, supported by funds from Arts Council Lottery and Manchester City Galleries Corporate Patrons, 2000


© Tony Oursler and Lisson Gallery, London

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