Stuart Davis typically painted local modern subjects in rhythmic compositions with bold colors. Among his sources of inspiration were “skyscraper architecture; the brilliant colors on gasoline stations; chain store fronts and taxi cabs“ and jazz music. Long before postwar artists mined the world of trademark brands, Davis incorporated imagery from logos, commercial signage, and packaging into his paintings, such as the branded bag of tobacco in Lucky Strike (1921). Championed by the visionary dealer Edith Halpert at her downtown Gallery, Davis’s work was met with both enthusiasm and confusion despite being engaged with the stuff and forms of modern life in New York in the 1920s.
Photographed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
The enormous sandwich and pack of cigarettes in Still Life Number 36 (1964) reflect Tom Wesselmann’s nonhierarchical approach to subject matter and technique. He believed that anything could be art, including the ordinary consumer items that fill our pockets and kitchen cabinets. In 1962, Wesselmann began a series of large-scale still lifes that incorporated fragments of discarded commercial billboards, which he initially scavenged from trash cans but later procured in new, pristine condition directly from advertising agencies. The larger-than-life proportions of the objects in Still Life Number 36 at first seem to celebrate the surfeit of commercial goods in America’s postwar consumer culture. Yet the layers of collage and painted areas bring together incongruent depictions of reality, creating tensions in the composition that Wesselmann described as “reverberation.
Dorian Grey Gallery in the East Village hosted an informal brunch today to promote its current exhibit, Indulgences, works on paper and recent paintings by New York artist Walter Robinson. As you might infer from the show’s title, Indulgences includes paintings of sweets and fast food favorites, pharmaceuticals and alcohol. The show also includes a selection of celebrity portraits, nudes and romance novel covers, but I didn’t feel compelled to shoot pictures of any of that stuff, so, you know, just go to the gallery and check it out.
Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of What Goes Without Saying, Hank Willis Thomas’ third solo exhibition with the gallery. The show includes photographs, sculpture, painting and new media, all which delve into the construction of mythologies embedded in popular culture.
Known for his innovative use of advertising, the differences here is the globally ubiquitous language, he builds complex narratives about history, identity and race. This show brings together several facets of Thomas’ practice to explore objects and language, torn from their history, brought to our present, and repurposed to reveal the process of their agency.
The works in What Goes Without Saying draw from a section of Roland Barthes’ book, Mythologies, to explore the ideas of explicit and implicit representations found in objects, gestures and phrases. By separating language from the advertising in which it appears, he effectively deconstructs the relationship between the reader and viewer.
In Thomas’ new carborundum works, part of the Fair Warning series, he takes text from cigarette advertising in magazines from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, retaining the font while abandoning the accompanying visuals. The decontextualized slogans like Stronger Yet Milder, Measurably Long and Immeasurably Cool come to stand for more than just a cigarette, highlighting the adjectives used to connote power and elegance, often times with a sexual tone.
What Goes Without Saying focuses on subtext, shifting meaning and the complexity of historical actions embedded in visual culture. These ideas are important in the context of the current election and the theater of the campaigns.
Hank Willis Thomas’s What Goes Without Saying will be on Exhibit Through November 17, 2012 at Jack Shainman Gallery, Located at 513 West 20th Street, NYC. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
The Image Above Courtesy of the Jonathan LeVine Gallery. All Other Photos by Gail Worley
Worley Gig has taken a bit of a break from Gallery hopping this summer: partly because lots of the galleries are on their summer hiatus and partly because we’ve just been too busy doing other fun things. Oh, New York Contemporary Art Scene, how we have missed you. But what better way to get re-immersed in the vibrant Chelsea gallery scene than with Jonathan LeVine Gallery’s latest group show, Détournement: Signs of the Times, brilliantly curated by Carlo McCormick, which opened this past Thursday. We’d especially like to thank the gallery’s Associate Director, Malena Seldin for allowing The Gig to photograph the show in the empty gallery prior to the start of Thursday night’s opening reception.