Jeff Koons’ Woman in Tub (1988) combines a cartoon-like rendering of a nude woman startled by a submerged snorkeler with the exquisite, hard-paste porcelain finish of typical 18th-century Rococo figurines. Part of Koons‘ Banality series, which is characterized by oddly eroticized, comic and kitsch images, this work takes personal taste — good and bad — as its primary subject.
Koons has explained the work’s biographical origin:
When I was a kid, my grandparents had an ashtray on a table in their television room. It was a small porcelain of a girl in a bathtub. It was white, with pink and blue details, and the legs went back and forth. As a kid, I was mesmerized. My Woman in Tub comes from that, though it references [the toiletry scenes painted by] Manet and Degas. I had such as experience of awe looking at that object.
David Wojnarowicz (1954 – 1992) used red string as a material throughout his practice. From his early supermarket posters to the flower paintings, he stitched red string into the surface of his compositions to suggest the seams and irreconcilable breaks in culture. In his unfinished film, A Fire In MY Belly (1986 – 87), Wojnarowicz included footage of the stitching together of a broken loaf of bread. This sculpture is a physical manifestation of that earlier idea. The film also included footage of what appeared to be a man’s lips being sewn together. A version of that image by Andreas Sterzing — featuring Wojnarowicz himself — would become one of the most galvanizing images to come out of the AIDS crisis.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, History Keeps Me Awake at Night, at The Whitney Musuem.
In imagining Michael Jackson (1958 – 2009) as a contemporary god of pop culture, Jeff Koons draws on long histories of representing mythic figures in sculpture. In Michael Jackson and and Bubbles (1988), the singer cradles his pet chimpanzee, mimicking a Pieta as perhaps a poignant evolutionary take on the composition of a mother and her child. Koons uses the techniques and conventions of traditional Meissen porcelain — a medium often associated with kitsch — on a grand scale, to underscore the mass appeal of his subject. Similarly, the pronounced use of gold signals excess to the point of banality, even as it reflects the brilliance of the megastar in the manner of an Egyptian pharaoh.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Like Life: Sculpture, Color and The Body, at The Met Breuer, NYC.
Shiro Kuramata (1934 – 1991) a member of The Memphis Group and among the most innovative designers of the late twentieth century, was fascinated by the visual possibilities of acrylic. The artist stated that his ideal objective was to see objects floating in air. Named for the Wunderkammern owned by Renaissance princes that displayed natural and man-made curiosities, Cabinet De Curiosité (1988) offers the magical impression of suspending its contents in midair. Kuramata explored the phenomenological effects of acrylic — light and lightness, invisibility and reflectivity, weight and weightlessness – and the material has become the poetic signature of his work. Kuramata used the term Neiro, or “sound-color,” to describe the synesthetic effect that acrylic has it both its physical presence and the spectral color-shadows it casts as light passes through it. Its prismatic luminosity changes with light and viewpoint, exploiting the optical effects of the material. Shown here alongside Flower Vase #3 (1989).
David Hockney’s Large Interior, Los Angeles (1988) applies a cubist treatment of geometry to open up the interior of a large, modern, urban living space. In this painting, the conventional tunnel perspective of a regular image is expanded to give a fisheye panorama of the entire space.
The viewer’s attention is initially drawn to the central living area, but then begins to wander and explore; the fireplace, the kitchen, dining area, even an external deck and outdoor garden invites us toward it. The floor, furnishings, walls and all the contours of the ceiling faces are folded open but without loosing any dimension or becoming flat. Light pours through the skylights and exterior opening illuminating the main living area with bright vibrant colors.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
On This Date, July 18th, in 1988: Nico, (born Christa Päffgen) the German-born actress, fashion model, Andy Warhol Cohort and a former singer with The Velvet Underground died of a cerebral hemorrhage after hitting her head when falling off of her bike in Ibiza, where she was on holiday with her son. She was 49 years old.