Ross Bleckner’s Count No Count (1989) is one of a series of memento mori paintings that the artist began to make in the mid-1980s. The suggestion of flickering lights in the work serves as a reminder to viewers of their own mortality, and for Bleckner — an AIDS activist — of the many lives lost to the AIDS epidemic. Bleckner engages both the formal and metaphorical qualities of light, yielding a work that shifts between abstraction and symbolic representation. To achieve the appearance of light within a darkened void, the artist blended wax into oil paint, creating a luminous surface that conveys what he describes as “this almost continual light that comes from inside.”
Photographed as Part of Fast Forward: Painting From The 1980s at the Whitney Museum of Americana Art, on Exhibit Through May 14th, 2017.
Above Image Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum. All Additional Photos By Gail
Spring has sprung, and the cherry blossoms are in serious bloom out front of the Brooklyn Museum, where from now until July 8th you can see an exciting retrospective on the early career of the late Keith Haring. Here in downtown NYC, especially, Haring’s humorous yet socially provocative, instantly recognizable pop art images are enduring and almost ubiquitous even 22 years after his death. I’ve always been attracted to Keith’s clever line drawings and the sense of humor inherent in his work, but it wasn’t until I watched Christina Clausen’s 2008 documentary The Universe of Keith Haring (rent it on Netflix) that I realized what a true visionary and genius he was. It seems that the great ones always leave us too soon.
According to the official press release, Keith Haring: 1978–1982 is the first large-scale exhibition to explore the early career of one of the best-known American artists of the twentieth century. Tracing the development of Haring’s extraordinary visual vocabulary, the exhibition includes 155 works on paper, numerous experimental videos, and over 150 archival objects, including rarely seen sketchbooks, journals, exhibition flyers, posters, subway drawings, and documentary photographs.
The exhibition chronicles the period in Haring’s career from his arrival in New York City through the years when he started his studio practice and began making public and political art on the city streets. Immersing himself in New York’s downtown culture, he quickly became a fixture on the artistic scene, befriending other artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf, as well as many of the most innovative cultural figures of the period. The critical role that these relationships played in Haring’s development as a public artist and facilitator of group exhibitions and performances is also explored.
Pieces on view include a number of very early works never before seen in public; seven video pieces, including Painting Myself into a Corner (his first video piece) and Tribute to Gloria Vanderbilt; and collages created from cut-up fragments of his own writing, history textbooks, and newspapers. Keith Haring died from AIDS related complications in February of 1990 at the age of 31, but his art and message will live on forever. For more information on the Keith Haring exhibit visit the Brooklyn Museum’s website at this link.
Keith Haring: 1978–1982 will be on Exhibit through July 8, 2012 in the Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 5th Floor of The Brooklyn Museum, located at 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, which is easily accessible from Manhattan via the 2 or 3 Trains to the Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum exit. So Easy! Hours are Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Thursday: 11:00 AM –10:00 PM and Friday–Sunday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Phone: (718)638-5000 for Additional Information.
See Additional Photos from this exhibit after the jump!
On September 5, 2011, late Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury would have celebrated his 65th Birthday. In remembrance of his life, UK-based Global AIDS charity, the Mercury Phoenix Trust is sponsoring the annual charity event, Freddie For a Day. Created by Liz Swanton, Freddie For a Day encourages participants to dress up like Freddie Mercury for a full day and collect sponsorships from friends and co-workers, whose donations then go to support the AIDS education and prevention efforts of the Mercury Phoenix Trust. This HIV AIDS charitable organization was founded in Freddie’s memory after his passing almost 20 years ago. Having spent the majority of my High School years dressed like Freddie, I can say that this event sounds like a lot of fun, and a great way to remember Freddie’s specialness while raising money for a good cause. Plus, who wouldn’t want to rock that moustache?
Find out more about Freddie for Day a Day (FFAD) and how you can participate by visiting This Link!
Paul Thek: Diver, a Retrospectiveis the first retrospective in the United States devoted to the legendary American artist Paul Thek (1933-1988). A sculptor, painter and one of the first artists to create environments or installations, Thek came to recognition showing his sculpture in New York galleries in the 1960s. The first works exhibited, which he began making in 1964 and called “meat pieces” as they were meant to resemble flesh, were encased in Plexiglas boxes that recall Minimal sculptures.
At the end of the sixties, Thek left for Europe, where he created extraordinary environments, incorporating elements from art, literature, theater, and religion, often employing fragile and ephemeral substances, including wax and latex. After a decade, at the end of the seventies, Thek changed direction, moved back to New York, and turned to the making of small, sketch-like paintings on canvas, although he continued to create environments in key international exhibitions.
With his frequent use of highly perishable materials, Thek accepted the ephemeral nature of his art works – and was aware, as writer Gary Indiana has noted, of “a sense of our own transience and that of everything around us.” Paul Thek died of AIDS at just 54 years of age – way too soon to go. With loans of work never before seen in the US, Diver is intended to introduce his art to a broader American audience. Having just seen this exhibit, my reccommendation is to go while you can!
Paul Thek: Diver, Runs Through January 9, 2011 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Madison Avenue between 74th and 75th Streets in NYC.
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!