French Impressionist Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) painted dancers for roughly half of his career, and the above pastel drawing is only one of dozens of his images depicting a dancer in a pink outfit. I saw this one, Danseuse Rose (1896) at MOMA in New York over the summer.
Since the 1960s, Lynda Benglis has been celebrated for the free, ecstatic forms she has poured, thrown and molded in ceramic, latex, polyurethane and bronze. In her new work, she turns to handmade paper, which she wraps around a chicken wire armature, often painting the sand-toned surface in bright, metallic colors offset by strokes of deep, coal-based black. At other times she leaves the paper virtually bare.
These works reflect the environment in which they were made, the “sere and windblown” landscape of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as Nancy Princenthal writes in her essay on the exhibit. “It is possible to see the bleached bones of the land—its mesas and arroyos; its scatterings of shed snakeskins and animal skeletons—in the new sculptures’ combination of strength and delicacy.”
Simultaneously playful and visceral, the new works enter into a lively dialogue with Benglis’s previous explorations of materials and form, but with a raw immediacy inherent to the moist strips of paper she uses as their skin. Stretched, crimped and torn into richly organic shapes, the paper becomes both the sculpture’s shell and a repository of the artist’s touch. “The flexibility of the paper is marvelous; it’s just very loving,” she tells the filmmaker Burrill Crohn in Benglis Skin Deep, a video interview on the making of this body of work.
The sculptures are light and open, with slits and apertures revealing their wire supports. “I’m drawing with air, and wire, and paper,” Benglis remarks in the interview. Princenthal compares the paper skins to shattered piñatas and animal hides, as well as to the kites that the artist’s father made by hand (Benglis attends the kite festival held yearly at Ahmedabad, India, where she maintains a residence).
Lynda Benglis With a Fan at the Exhibit’s Opening Reception in September
As a counterweight to the paper sculptures, Benglis will also exhibit The Fall Caught, a new large-scale aluminum work made by applying spray foam instead of strips of handmade paper on the chicken wire armature, as well as a new series of spiraling, hand-built black ceramics called Elephant Necklace. Benglis has said of this work, “Elephants necklaces are artifacts that I imagine in the long and short of the extrusions of life. The expulsion from the garden with the umbilical cord attached are perhaps the fragments left of the family of mammoths trunks. Having left only parts of their trunks in our imagination, I long to find out more about them through a united collaboration with Saxe Patterson, my exploration team, and others who may decide to question their existence in this hemisphere.”
The sexual politics at the heart of Benglis’s career is intrinsic to this work. The cylindrical shape of many of her new sculptures can bring to mind phalluses and vaginas (“considered as tubes, one becomes the other”), and yet, as Princenthal observes, “Of all the sensations her work evokes, pure delight is among the keenest.”
Lynda Benglis: New Work will be on Exhibit Through October 22nd, 2016 at Cheim & Read, Located at 547 West 25th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
At mid-career, Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1897), made his mark with this painting, Oedipus and the Sphinx, at the Salon of 1864. It represents the Greek hero Oedipus confronting the Sphinx outside of Thebes: he must solve her riddle to save his life and those of the besieged Thebans. Remains of those victims who’ve failed the test are seen in the paintings bottom right corner.
Moreau’s mythological theme and archaizing style reflect his admiration for Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres‘s 1808 version of the same subject and for the work of the early Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna. In emulation these exemplars, Moreau diverged from the Realist sensibilities shaping French art in the 1860s.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum Of Art in NYC.
Writing this rad blog has been an excellent way to discover and start to follow the careers of many cool and talented local artists, one of whom is Joseph Grazi, who creates fresh artworks by mixing taxidermy with classic statuary, juxtaposed with pristine colored pencil and graphite renderings, and giving the result a slight twist in perspective. Joseph Gross Gallery is currently hosting Cecil: A Love Story, Grazi’s latest body of work, which is a multimedia exhibition that examines the public’s erratic moral compass in the wake of highly publicized tragedies.
On August 15, 2015 the world learned through a flurry of rage posts populating social media newsfeeds that the (until then widely unknown) Zimbabwean icon Cecil the Lion had been killed by a trophy hunter. The hunter responsible, a white, privileged dentist named Walter Palmer, had become the most hated man on the planet overnight.
Cecil: A Love Story scrutinizes the public’s alarmingly inconsistent morals, particularly in relation to animals. Through various media, Grazi creates a dialogue surrounding how we perceive and process atrocities committed against human beings versus those against animals.
Why did killing of Cecil the Lion by Walter Palmer make frontpage news over a terrorist attack that happened in the same week? Why did Jimmy Kimmel cry over the death of Cecil, but not after 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram?
Having worked with lions in Africa for a period of time, the artist brings an informed perspective to the exhibition that contrasts the suburban American mentality surrounding wildlife. Wildlife, the artist argues, is a human construction. People say “don’t play God,” but rather, he states, “we already are God.” The wilds are only wild because humans allow it to exist.
Further, Joseph Grazi investigates what it is specifically about lions that has infatuated humans throughout history. A timeless tradition and continuous obsession, with imagery carved into ancient churches to the modern suburban home – the exhibition begs the question “why are lions so special?” It dives deep into our
collective consciousness to discover why Cecil, of all creatures and all lions, was deemed so extraordinary.
Cecil: A Love Story By Joseph Grazi will be on Exhibit Through October 31st, 2016 at Joseph Gross Gallery, located at 548 W 28th St, Ground Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
If you’ve visited the MEET Corporate Meeting Space’s Chrystie Street location, you’ve probably noticed their Favorite Things Lamps, designed by Chen Karlsson. These clear glass pendant lamps showcase MEET’s eclectic treasured objects and provide fun, surprising branding opportunities their clients. Over this past summer, Art Toy vendors My Plastic Heart curated the lamps’ featured contents, enlisting toy designers Kano, Brent Nolasco and Justin Alan Volpe to each fill a selection of the lamps with one of their signature creations.
In July, I attend a party and Q&A at MEET, where Brent Nolasco and Justin Alan Volpe were present to discuss their art, and I was able to take these photos in this post. Enjoy!
Justin Alan Volpe creates one-of-a-kind, handmade felt toys like the one he is holding here. They did not photograph so well, unfortunately, but this will give you a good idea of what he does.
This is Brent Nolasco. Below are some of the lamps featuring his fun monster toys!
Toys by Kano feature a Robot figure emblazoned with one of his design on the front of its body. I love this little Smiling Shark!
MEET on Chrystie is located at 195 1/2 Chrystie Street, Suite #200, in Manhattan.
There’s a brand new Shepard Fairey mural now covering the southern exposure of the building on southwest the corner of First Avenue and 11th Street; former home to Schnitz, and the Viennese bakery Something Sweet before that.
Work on the Rise Above mural was finished as of October 2nd and it took Fairey only about 4 or 5 days to complete. The model is Fairey’s eldest daughter, at age 3 years (she’s now 11).
Each year, at least one of the Chelsea galleries hosts an exhibit so impressive and over-the-top in size and scope that we like to refer to it as Art Disneyland for the duration of its run. One year, it was Yayoi Kusama’s I Who Have Arrived in Heaven, with its multiple, mirrored infinity room installations. Another, it was Takashi Murakami’s In the Land of The Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow: a sort of Greatest Hits of the Japanese Superflat artist. And last year, we would nominate Mike Kelley’s mind-blowing Superman Origin Story that filled the cavernous spaces of Hauser & Wirth with otherworldly delights. Those were all fantastic exhibits worthy of multiple visits, no doubt about it.
This year’s Art Disneyland is over at is Lehmann Maupin on 22nd Street, and you have just under 2 weeks to check it out before you miss out. Silence of the Music, starring the whimsical, elevated street art of Brazilian artist duo Os Gemeos was virtually impossible to gain entry to during its opening reception on September 8th, and four weeks later it’s still drawing huge crowds and endless tour groups. It’s easy to see why as soon as you enter the gallery.
At their first New York solo show with Lehmann Maupin, twin brothers Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo have transformed multiple rooms into an immersive installation that combines drawing, painting, collage, mixed media sculpture, and kinetic and audio elements. These newest works represent an evolution of the style Os Gemeos has honed over decades, while also returning to their early experimentation with diverse mediums, including new oil paintings. This exhibition offers a heightened multi-sensory experience that embraces the power of human imagination and the vast possibilities in visually interpreting the subconscious.
Os Gemeos broke onto the art scene in the late 1980s as graffiti writers in their São Paulo neighborhood of Cambuci, and are now internationally recognized for a figurative style that typically features their signature yellow characters, thin dark red outlining, and intricately patterned designs. Initially influenced by the graffiti movement coming out of New York, they were ultimately inspired by the ingenuity and resourcefulness evident in their working class neighborhood. They made their art accessible to the community as a way to contribute a sense of optimism in the midst of the economic disparity, violence, and drug use that proliferated.
They believed that the popular Brazilian art movements of the time, which favored conceptual, minimalist, and concrete art, were limiting to a wider audience. Instead, they embraced work by self-taught artists like Arthur Bispo do Rosario, who created all of his work from a Rio de Janeiro mental institution during the 1930s. Following a 1993 visit with the prominent San Francisco-based artist Barry McGee, the twins developed a rigorous studio practice while continuing to make murals. This allowed them to extend their unique artistic vision beyond the streets to an international audience that includes galleries, museums, and private collections. Os Gemeos’ practice continues to be marked by a commitment to the accessibility of art and to exposing the realities of the working class while also celebrating its resilience.
Silence of the Music extends Os Gemeos’ approach to an exhibition as a total work of art, a concept exemplified in their Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston solo exhibition in 2012. Conceived as a site-specific installation, each room contains a unique grouping of paintings and objects that cover the wall, floor to ceiling.
The exhibition pays tribute to music in particular. Included in their B-Boy room are boom box paintings — canvases with embedded speakers that play tracks linked to the imagery on the canvas — and interactive sculptures that play LP records.
For Os Gemeos, the era during the 1970s and 1980s was an influential time of discovery and sharing; the improvisational structure, descriptions of everyday life on the streets, and bravado in sharing these stories that this golden age of hip hop fostered is intrinsically linked to their practice.
Here’s a little video I took of the kinetic sculpture pictured above, which is called O Iluminado (The Illuminated)!
Similar to the surrealist artists of the early 20th century, Os Gemeos seek to defy conventions and push boundaries in art and society through the unbridled exploration of the subconscious and imagination. In direct contrast to the surrealist notion of a solitary dream space, however, the twins have described a shared intuition and subconscious experience that is translated visually through their collaborative process. They often allude to this notion of duality with their incorporation of the sun and moon, which is representative of masculine and feminine forces.
The room Kiss is painted in bright hues that exude a sunny splendor and is anchored by a mechanical sculpture, representative of the masculine, which plays compositions arranged by Os Gemeos together with their brother.
A sculpture affixed to the ceiling directly above it, depicting a female, moon-shaped face, seemingly kisses the floor sculpture to trigger the music played. This imagery and their installations are meant to conjure a lucid dream state and empower the audience to consider their own subconscious.
Os Gemeos’ symbolism extends to their characters as well, whose indiscriminate yellow tone is meant to defy racial associations, an artistic decision meant to emphasize unity and the establishing role that diversity plays in their native Brazil and abroad. The twins often incorporate masks, instruments, and musicians in their work as a way to visualize the folk customs, festivals, and crafts that represent the myriad of cultural influences that make up the social and cultural landscape. Silence of the Music combines folk art, pop culture, and urban detritus in order to offer an expansive impression of the artists’ unique artistic perspective and creative process.
Os Gemeos Silence of the Music will be on Exhibit Through October 22nd, 2016 at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, Located at 536 West 22nd Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.