Salome is an archetype of the femme fatale, the embodiment of a deadly femininity. The Biblical seductress who was responsible for the beheading of Saint John the Baptist was a frequent motif in the repertoires of male artists during the end of the 19th century. For New Salome (1893), Max Klinger reimagines her as a modern vixen in living color, with not one but two grotesquely severed male heads as her side. Applying watercolor to her flesh and bright paint to her lips (now worn off) and hair, Klinger emphasized her sensuality, though he left the gray marble cloak in its natural state. Her piercing amber eyes transfix her intended male admirers, threatening to make thinner next victims. Just as color vivifies dead matter, the living bust turns the viewers to stone. Pygmalion’s statue and Medusa become one.
Photographed in The Met Breuer (Now Closed) as Part of the 2018 Exhibit, Like Life: Sculpture, Color and The Body.
Robert Indiana (1928 – 2018) was closely associated with the hard-edged painting and Pop Art movements. Using the formal vocabulary of advertisements, his work often explores the power of words and numbers. In Purim: The Four Facets of Esther II (1967), he represents Stars of David and elements of the Biblical story of Esther, who was Queen of Persia in the fifth century BCE. Esther saved her fellow Jews from destruction, the feat to which Indiana refers in the fourth panel.
The Jewish Museum (where this photo was taken) commissioned this print in an edition of ninety for its annual Purim fundraising ball in 1967.
The Most Beautiful Daughters (after Balthus) By SHAG (All Photos By Gail, Click on Any Image to Enlarge for Detail)
Do you enjoy the artwork of Josh Agle — AKA SHAG? I sure do. In fact, the very high point of last week’s art crawl was the opening reception of SHAG’s latest exhibit, All My Bones at Jonathan LeVine Gallery’s 23rd Street space. Nicole and I enjoyed looking at the paintings and pretending they depicted favorite scenes from episodes of Mad Men. When you look at the photos in this post, I think you will understand why.
The Endless Staircase
With a distinct style influenced by mid-century modern design, Agle paints with a keen attention to figure and form. Depicting stylized subjects in affluent settings he invites viewers into a playful yet satirical world, confronting themes of fame, youth, revelry and excess. With a paradoxical central narrative influenced by Biblical stories, All My Bones epitomizes the artist’s retro aesthetic and expands upon his sophisticated iconography.
The Queen of Sheba, featuring Don Draper, Megan Draper and Roger Sterling!
Spy Pic of SHAG (second from far left) taken by me at the Opening Reception. He was very nice!
The Golden Calf
Rendered with vividly saturated colors, crisp shapes and fluid line work, Agle’s works sardonically look at consumption and consumerism. His extravagant subjects are surrounded by lavish architecture, fashion and furnishings but are apathetic toward their opulence, predominately portrayed as expressionless and emotionally detached.
Macaah and Absalom
The pieces in All My Bones were inspired by a book of Old Testament stories Agle had as a child. He recalls, “What seemed like straightforward morality plays told in simple language and pictures meant for children turned out to be complex, grotesque and ethically confusing stories when I read them in the Bible as I got older.”
The Most Virtuous Family (Note: Possibly the First Depiction of a “Selfie” in an SHAG Paining!)
In this series demonic characters, blazing flames and kingly lions are placed within the hedonistic atmosphere of a SHAG painting with the goal of reinterpreting these fables in such a way that will keep the imagery as morally ambiguous as the source material.
Installation View Left to Right: Ahab’s Wife, Woman with False Idol III, Ethbaal’s Daughter
The detail in these paintings is just fantastic and photos cannot even do them justice, so if you are intrigued you need to check out this show in person.
Dagon’s Pad (Note: SHAG Autograph Procured at the Opening)
All My Bones by SHAG will be on Exhibit Through June 13th, 2015 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at
557C West 23rd Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.