Tag Archive | Fast Forward: Painting From The 1980s

Modern Art Monday Presents: Count No Count by Ross Bleckner

Count No Count by Ross Bleckner
Photo By Gail

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.

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Modern Art Monday Presents: Sextant in Dogtown by David Salle

Sextant in Dogtown
Photo By Gail

David Salle’s paintings juxtapose images from a variety of sources to startling and often provocative effect. In  Sextant in Dogtown (1987) Salle arranges disparate elements within a grid and in a manner evoking film montage, while combing a pastiche of painterly styles and subjects. Here, the act of seeing — or not seeing– becomes a subject in itself. A half-dressed woman, lifted from the artist’s own photography, is shown from different vantage points, her face always obscured. Above her, a cartographer uses an old-fashioned measuring device known as a “sextant.” Confronted with these disjunctive images and with no evident narrative, we are ultimately left to forge connections on our own.

While Salle’s work is frequently associated with the resurgence of figurative paintings in the 1980s, it is also linked closely to that of the Pictures Generation — artists who employed appropriation to explore the relationship between image and consumption.

Photographed as Part of Fast Forward: Painting From The 1980s at the Whitney Museum of Americana Art, on Exhibit Through May 14th, 2017.

Modern Art Monday: Kathe Burkhart, Prick, From the Liz Taylor Series (Suddenly Last Summer)

Prick
Photo By Gail

Kathe Burkhart’s Prick: From the Liz Taylor Series (Suddenly Last Summer) (1987) is based on a scene from the 1959 film Suddenly Last Summer, starring Elizabeth Taylor. The artist has amassed an extensive archive of film stills of Taylor, which she uses for an ongoing series based on the actress’s image — works she sees as self-portraits related to her own life through the choice of image and text. For Burkhart, Taylor represents an important and iconic early feminist:

Liz Taylor as an actress was often gender nonconforming, and unlike Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and other Hollywood victims, she survived.

Photographed as Part of Fast Forward: Painting From The 1980s at the Whitney Museum of Americana Art, on Exhibit Through May 14th, 2017.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Baron Sinister By Walter Robinson

Baron Sinister
Photo By Gail

Walter Robinson (b. 1950) took the subject of this painting, Baron Sinister (1986) from a cover illustration for a mass-market paperback, one of many low-end sources he raided in search of seductive consumerist imagery. The book’s protagonist — a secret agent — and his damsel-in-distress appear in a dramatic, suspenseful close-up, which Robinson has rendered in a hyper-expressive style. By making the figures larger than life, the artist exaggerates their idealized youth, attractiveness and heroism. Removed from their original context, and painted on an ordinary, floral-patterned bed sheet, the couple is transformed from cliche to archetype, as Robinson explores traditional notions of romance in the context of mass consumerism.

Photographed as Part of Fast Forward: Painting From The 1980s at the Whitney Museum of Americana Art, on Exhibit Through May 14th, 2017.