Sarah in a Blue Dress characterizes Juan Muñoz's fascination with narcissism. His sculpture of figures caught in the moment of preoccupation with their own image magnifies our own sense of self-consciousness and blurs the act of seeing and being seen. Sarah is a dwarf in high heels and a dress, which from the front is colored Yves Klein cobalt blue. While she does not resemble the gamine and lanky models of Klein's performances of the 1950s, the color of her dress implies that she is a participant in some kind of spectacle or performance. The mirror seems out of scale with her small body, and as a consequence, we see our own full-sized selves looking awkward and out of place next to her. While her aura is distinctly feminine, she is neither attractive nor unattractive--just vulnerable--caught in the personal act of self-observation.
Like his compatriot Diego Velázquez in his masterpiece Las Meninas, Muñoz employs the mirror to set up a complex tableau about the nature of seeing and beholding. In Las Meninas, the composition is activated by the placement of a mirror that reflects the image of the King and Queen of Spain at roughly the same purview as the viewer. In this work by Muñoz, the mirror reflects the viewer directly, suggesting a more preformative role for the spectator and emphasizing the vast and infinite ways one can interpret a gaze. Sarah in a Blue Dress emplifies Muñoz's preoccupation with the act of looking, particularly as he reminds us that as we are looking, we are always in a certain way, being looked at.
Don Diego de Silva Vélazquez, Las Meninas (La familia de Felipe IV, 1656, Museo del Prado, Madrid (detail)