50th Anniversary of “Three Transitions” by peter campus – Oct 27 to Dec 16 at Cristin Tierney Gallery

Visual Arts

peter campus
Three Transitions

October 27 – December 16, 2023

Cristin Tierney Gallery
219 Bowery, Floor 2
New York, NY 10002


Created in 1973, the video work Three Transitions was produced at Boston’s WGBH-TV public television station through their “New Television Workshop” fellowship program. Since its initial presentation at Bykert Gallery that same year, Three Transitions has been exhibited across numerous institutions, including Jeu de Paume, Culturgest, British Film Institute, Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art, and Bronx Museum of Art, among many others. campus’ study of form transcended the new medium of video art and has influenced generations of artists ever since.

This fall, in honor of this iconic work’s 50th anniversary, Cristin Tierney Gallery will present an exhibition and programming dedicated to exploring campus’ ground-breaking video. Additionally, the gallery will produce a short documentary about the work.

The action in Three Transitions unfolds as follows. First, using two cameras situated on opposite sides of a paper wall, campus creates the illusion of cutting into and stepping through his own body. In the second sequence, he uses blue paint, a predecessor to the green screen technique, to coat his face and reveal another image of his own face. In the final segment, campus sets a mirrored sheet of paper on fire so that the reflected image of his face burns until all that is left is darkness.

Three Transitions is formal in its approach, focused on perception, color, and the figure/ground relationship. No narrative is presented. Themes of cognitive psychology, identity construction, and existentialism are readily apparent. Three Transitions juxtaposes evocative imagery to emphasize the disconnect between the interior subject and exterior object, integrating form and content in a novel way. As time unfolds and the piece progresses, it becomes apparent that the physical spaces recorded by the camera are metaphors for psychological ones.

Three Transitions has been exhibited by renowned institutions worldwide and is included in the permanent collections of the The Whitney Museum of American Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Modern Art, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and The ZKM: Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, among others.

peter campus (b. 1937, New York, NY) is an influential artist in the canon of new media and video art. After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Experimental Psychology from Ohio State University in 1960, he studied at The City College Film Institute and participated in the experimental workshops at WGBH- TV. In 1975, campus received the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1976, he was awarded the National Endowment for the Art Fellowship. His work has been exhibited extensively with solo shows at the Jeu de Paume, CAAC, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Culturgest, Whitney Museum of American Art, Kunsthalle Bremen, Centre Georges Pompidou, The Power Plant, Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, The High Museum, and University of Michigan Museum of Art.

campus is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Parrish Art Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Centre Georges Pompidou, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Harvard Art Museums, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, Walker Art Center, Weatherspoon Art Museum, and Tate Modern.

Founded in 2010, Cristin Tierney Gallery is a contemporary art gallery located on The Bowery with a deep commitment to the presentation, development, and support of a roster of both established and emerging artists. Its program emphasizes artists engaged with critical theory and art history, with an emphasis on conceptual, video, and performance art. Education and audience engagement is central to our mission. Cristin Tierney Gallery is a member of the ADAA (Art Dealers Association of America).

Still from peter campus, Three Transitions, 1973. single-channel video with sound. 4:53 minutes.

Media Contact:

Max Kruger-Dull
Blue Medium, Inc.
Tel: +1-212-675-1800