Claes Oldenburg has consistently embraced contradiction to transform and animate everyday objects. In his art, hard becomes soft, miniscule becomes monumental and, as in Soft Calendar (1962), flat becomes three-dimensional. Oldenburg’s stuffed fabric sculptures originated in 1962 as props to his art events, or Happenings, and evolved into independent artworks. The giant numbers of Soft Calendar are sensuously rounded and pillow-like. Each Sunday is called out in brilliant red, while the remaining days of the week are coated in white enamel. Photographic documentation suggests that Soft Calendar was assembled by Oldenburg and is partner, Patty Mucha, at Green Gallery in 1962, in preparation for the opening of his solo exhibition.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Robert Smithson, Untitled [Record Player], (1962); Record Player with Found Objects and Collage (All Photos by Gail)
When Robert Smithson died in a plane crash in 1973, his fame as an artist was based on his creation of monumental earthworks such as Spiral Jetty, or minimalist sculptures using both Mirrored and regular, plate Glass.
But the James Cohan Gallery (in their brand new space in Chinatown) just hosted its inaugural exhibit, Robert Smithson: Pop, which featured a collection of the artist’s work from the early 1960s — including fluorescent-colored pencil sketches of both male and female nudes, collages, and found object sculptures — all of which were completely unlike anything the average Smithson fan would have been familiar with. You can read more about the exhibit and see photos in this great article over at Hyperallergic.
I went to see Pop just few days before it closed and while I loved the exhibit, there was one piece that resonated particularly strongly with my aesthetic sensibilities. In the rear room of the gallery, along with a few drawings, there was a small portable Record Player inside a display vitrine. The box for the record player is covered in collaged pictures of men and women, tabloid headlines, and plastic trinkets and fake flowers.
Collage on Outside Lid of Record Player
Inside, the box has been filled with twigs and dried grass, which make a nest for a small, blue bird.
The turn table has been transformed into a hot pink pond, filled with tiny toys including neon swans, sail boats, and little plastic babies that float about on their backs across the pink surface. It is so cool and completely visually captivating; it’s hard to believe that Smithson’s early work of Pop Art is over 50 years old now! I never would have imagined, from the works of his that I already knew so well, that Robert Smithson had a body of work like this in his portfolio. I’m glad I was able to see and photograph it before the exhibit closed in mid-January.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Robert Smithson: Pop at James Cohan Gallery, Located at 291 Grand Street in Chinatown, NYC.
One of the most accomplished abstract painters and influential teachers of the 20th century, Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) shaped three generations of artists, both in Europe and the United States. These students included Joan Mitchell, Larry Rivers, Allan Kaprow, and Marisol. As a painter, Hofmann is best remembered for his exhilarating large scale compositions that explore dynamic color and spatial relationships, topics about which he wrote widely read essays.
This work, Veluti in Speculum (1962) is from Hofmann’s so-called Renate series, a group of paintings he made as a tribute to his wife. Executed at the height of his career, they demonstrate the full power and broad a range of Hofmann’s distinctive style, one of the leading examples of painterly abstraction.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
British Comedian/Actor, Marathon Runner and Action Transvestite Eddie Izzard was born on this day, February 7th, in 1962. That makes him exactly one day younger than Axl Rose! Just take a look at the two of them and see who is better preserved at this still relatively young age! I just saw Eddie perform here in NYC on Monday of this week while car shopping and he was completely hilarious! Happy Birthday, Eddie!
Remember when we thought This Guy was the Crazy Axl Rose? Ah, memories.
William Bruce Bailey, also known as Axl Rose, celebrates another Birthday today, having been born on February 6th, 1962. I feel bad that Axl has lost his mind and become such a dick, but I guess we can always look back on Appetite for Destruction, which is a work of genius, and remember the good times. Happy Birthday Axl. Have some cake.
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ vocalist Anthony Kiedis was born on this day, November 1st in 1962! When I think of the RHCPs – which, trust me, is not often – I remember that one really great album they put out back in 1991, Blood Sugar Sex Magik (which is all about boning and taking drugs, so how could it not be awesome?), and how, when I saw them live on tour in support of that album, the support bands were… Pearl Jam and Nirvana. Ah, memories. Happy Birthday, Anthony!
Michael Hutchence, lead vocalist of INXS would have celebrated his Birthday today, having been born on January 22, 1962, if he hadn’t died on November 22, 1997 of asphyxiation due to hanging. Adding to the tragedy of his passing, his girlfriend, Paula Yates, died of a heroin overdose in September of 2000. Their daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, is now being raised by Yates’ ex-husband, Bob Geldof. Rest in Peace, Michael and Paula.
Matt Cameron, drummer for Soundgarden and Pearl Jam was born on this day, November 28th, in 1962! I interviewed Matt a few times for drumming interviews and also for one of his solo projects, Wellwater Conspiracy, in which he sings lead vocals from behind the kit. He’s a hilarious interview. Sadly, none of these interviews are online. Happy Birthday, Matt!