One of the pioneers of Conceptual art, Sol LeWitt gave primacy to the originating idea of a work of art rather than to its execution. LeWitt had been developing these ideas in three-dimensional objects he called “structures.” Based on the unit of an open, rather than solid, cube, the works peel away what he perceived as the decorative skin on traditional sculpture, revealing their underlying skeleton, or structure.
Though he created structures in a range of scales and shapes — the permutations growing more intricate over the decades — LeWitt maintained the use of white cubes with a ratio of 1:8.5; that is, the open space between the edges of a cube is 8.5 times the width of each edge. Five Towers (1986), a later, more complex structure, rises more than seven feet high, culminating in four towers on each corner of a square, with a fifth tower in the center.
In March of 2019, I attended a fun event-thing called the Barbie 60th Anniversary Pop-Up Experience, which was just insane. Imagine being wedged into a crowded labyrinth of bright lights, neon colors, and every type of Barbie-branded doll in the universe, including Gender-Nonconforming Barbie and Dad-Bod Ken. Now, add little kids with their parents, and millennial Instagram-whores, and you’re got an idea of the scenario that I consider myself lucky to have survived with my sanity intact. Still: super fun!
While I saw literally hundreds of Barbies that day, the one that I will surely never forget is this Pink Mink Stole-draped plastic goddess known as the Andy Warhol Barbie. Here’s why: this Barbie (the third such doll produced in collaboration with The Andy Warhol Foundation) is the definitive celebration of Warhol, drawing inspiration from the original Warhol Barbie portrait created by the artist in 1986. Barbie’s strapless gown features a sweetheart neckline and an overall print of the Warhol Barbie Portrait (you can see a few details of Barbie’s face on the dress if you look closely at the above photo). Beyond the fabulous Pink faux fur stole with blue lining, the doll’s accessories also include blue pumps accented with glitter inspired by Warhol’s technique of “diamond dust” crushed glass on canvas, earrings, necklace, ring and doll stand. Rad.
Sadly I could not capture details of the glittery shoes, as Andy Warhol Barbie was encased in a vitrine, to protect her from molestation. The statement to the left of Barbie’s face in the above photo reads as follows:
Andy Warhol made his mark by creating images of American icons. Barbie was added to the list when Warhol painted her in 1986. The first Barbie portrait was reportedly inspired by Warhol’s muse, Billy Boy, a jewelry designer and member of new York downtown scene in the 1980s, who owned a vast collection of Barbie dolls.
This past Christmastime, I traveled back home to California, where I spent many days of wild abandon exploring the southland like I had not since I was a resident, nearly 30 years ago. On a day spent scouring the many wonder-filled features of Downtown LA, I looked down from an overpass I was crossing on Grand Street and spotted this magnificent beast. The curved concrete sculpture features silhouettes of painted steel cars roller-coasting up the structure’s curve.
Part of the Bunker Hill public art project to beautify the Downtown LA area, this monumental piece is called Uptown Rocker by artist Lloyd Hamrol. While initially it appears that you its located on one of LA’s crazy freeways, the sculpture is actual;y located on the very busy Fourth Street. It might be fun to experience the sculpture while driving by, but I think that where I was standing (officially the South Grand Avenue bridge crossing Fourth Street) is the ideal Uptown Rocker) viewing location.
In the 1980s, Judaica artists began to reexamine the form of the Hanukkah lamp, which according to rabbinical prescription should have eight lights in a straight row and on the same level, with a ninth set off from them. Peter Shire (b. 1947) typically takes familiar objects and reimagines their shapes, colors and materials so that we barely recognize them.
In his Menorah #7 (1986), a mixture of pastel and hot colors, industrial metals and a cantilevered, swirling arrangement of parts challenge the modernist aesthetic of simplicity that had dominated design for a century. This post-modernism was a key design principe of the Memphis Design Group to which Shire belonged.
In the 1986 documentary The Unheard Music, filmmaker W.T Morgan brilliantly captured the Los Angeles Punk Scene using the band X as a focal point. This Pink Handheld Radio was featured in the film and included on the promotional items in support of the documentary
Pink Transistor Radio was Photographed as Part of the Exhibit X: 40 Years of Punk in Los Angeles at the Grammy Museum in Hollywood, California.
Walter Robinson (b. 1950) took the subject of this painting, Baron Sinister (1986) from a cover illustration for a mass-market paperback, one of many low-end sources he raided in search of seductive consumerist imagery. The book’s protagonist — a secret agent — and his damsel-in-distress appear in a dramatic, suspenseful close-up, which Robinson has rendered in a hyper-expressive style. By making the figures larger than life, the artist exaggerates their idealized youth, attractiveness and heroism. Removed from their original context, and painted on an ordinary, floral-patterned bed sheet, the couple is transformed from cliche to archetype, as Robinson explores traditional notions of romance in the context of mass consumerism.
Photographed as Part of Fast Forward: Painting From The 1980s at the Whitney Museum of Americana Art, on Exhibit Through May 14th, 2017.
On This Date, March 3rd in 1986: Metallica released its highly influential third album, Master of Puppets, considered by many in the metal community to be the best metal album of all time. This was the final Metallica album with original bassist Cliff Burton, who was killed when the group’s tour bus over-turned in southern Sweden while touring to promote the album.