Mnemonic device #2, Third Stone From The Sun

Jim Shaw


Painting, 137.2 x 109.2 cm.
Materials: acrylic on muslin

Collection: Gagosian, Paris (Inv. no. JSHAW 2020.0003).

For this work, Jim Shaw draws on techniques to train and support memory that were devised from the 1970s onwards by former American professional basketball player (and Olympic champion) Jerry Lucas. For the book Remember the Word: Vol. 1, The Gospels: A Bible Memorization System, Lucas developed a system of auditory and visual associations to memorise the four Gospels. Shaw adopts Lucas's cartoonish drawing style to create a rebus, with varying references from pop culture and the advertising world, to Breughelian scenes or a portrait of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The title may refer to 3rd Rock from the Sun, the 1990s American sitcom about aliens who land on Earth – the third planet from the Sun – which they consider a very insignificant planet. Third Stone From The Sun is also a late 1960s song by legendary psychedelic rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix that highlights the latter's interest in science fiction.

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