Bruce Nauman’s neon sculpture, Human Nature / Life Death (1983) is a circle of words corresponding to the defining contradictions of human existence — life and death, love and hate, pleasure and pain — are trisected by the words “Animal,” “Human” and “Nature.”
In the aggregate, the words form a colorful, illuminated peace symbol. Human Nature / Life Death is anything but serene or amicable, however, and not only because of its content. As the words flash and darken erratically, Nauman’s neon devolves into a jumble of disjointed signs that break the continuity of the composition and jerk the eye across the wall.
Laying in the bathtub one day, Jasper Johns contemplated what he described as a series of images that ran “through my head without any connectedness that I could see.” Racing Thoughts (1983) contains elements of this scene, such as the hanging khaki pants and running faucet. It also features the subjects of John’s musings, including a puzzle-portrait of his longtime dealer, Leo Castelli, a pot by ceramicist George Ohr, a lithograph by Barnett Newman, and reproduction of the Mona Lisa— all influences on John’s artistic development.
By arranging these images in this way, seemingly affixed to the faux-wood-grain background with trompe l’oeil tape, thumbtacks and a protruding nail, he links them to his career-long preoccupation with illusionism and ambiguity. Disparate though the composition’s elements may be, they are united by a complex web of art historical and personal associations that conjure an image of the artist himself.
It makes sense that I am not the biggest Star Wars fan, because I had no idea that a Jabba The Hutt Playset even existed until I saw this one on display at the Museum of the Moving Image (visit recommended) in Queens over the weekend. It just seems so…wrong. I don’t know.
But yes, this is a thing made by the Kenner Toy Company in 1983 as a tie-in to Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. As a tableau, the details are pretty cool and you can see it comes with Jabba’s trademark Hookah pipe and his little Court Jester guy, Salacious Crumb. As far as I can a tell though, Slave Leia is not included.
If you now feel like you simply must own one, these things sell on eBay for between $30 and $100, depending on the condition. Not too dear at all.
One This Date, December 28th, in 1983: Dennis Wilson, drummer for The Beach Boys drowned at Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles after drinking all day and diving in the afternoon to recover items he had thrown overboard at the marina from his yacht back in 1980. He was buried at sea off the California coast on January 4, 1984 by the U.S. Coast Guard. RIP, Dennis.
“Hi, I’m Keith Richards, and Please Buy My New Book” (Image Source)
Keith Richards turns another year older today, having been born on December 18, 1943. It’s also the wedding anniversary of Keith and wife Patti Hansen, who tied the knot on this date in 1983. Congrats all around Keef!
On This Date, August 6th in 1983: Maverick entertainer Klaus Nomi (born Klaus Sperber) died due to complications from AIDS, at the age of 39. The intriguing life and woefully short career of Nomi is the subject of a fantastic documentary, The Nomi Song, which I enthusiastically recommend!