Tag Archive | Hauser & Wirth

Pink Thing of The Day: Captured City of Kandor by Mike Kelley

City of Kandor in Bell Jar
City of Kandor in a Bell Jar (All Photos By Gail)

According to the comic book legend, Superman’s father Jor-El sent his infant son to safety on Earth before Krypton’s destruction, saving his life but inadvertently sentencing Superman to a future of displacement, loneliness and longing.

Superman grows up believing that Kandor – his city of birth – was destroyed, but later discovers his real home still exists, having been stolen by intergalactic archvillain Brainiac prior to Krypton’s demise, shrunken to a miniature metropolis and left trapped inside a glass bottle.

Superman ultimately wrestles Kandor away from Brainiac and hides it in his Fortress of Solitude, sustaining its citizens with tanks of Kryptonic atmosphere.

City of Kandor Detail

As artist Mike Kelley (1954 – 2012) once explained, Kandor functions for Superman as “a perpetual reminder of his inability to escape the past, and his alienated relationship to his present world.”

Mike Kelley Brings His Superman Origin Story to Hauser & Wirth

Installation View
All Photos By Gail

Hauser & Wirth is currently hosting the eponymous Mike Kelley exhibit, the gallery’s first exhibition devoted to one of the most ambitious and influential artists of our time. Organized in collaboration with the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, the exhibition is the first in New York to focus exclusively on one of the most significant of Kelley’s later series, Kandors. These visually opulent, technically ambitious sculptures combine with videos and a sprawling installation never before exhibited in the United States, as the late Los Angeles artist reworks the imagery and mythology of the popular American comic book hero, Superman, into an extraordinary opus of nurture and loss, destruction, mourning and – possibly – redemption. This my favorite exhibit of the year so far!

Kelley’s Kandors (1999, 2007, 2009, 2011) is named for Superman’s birthplace, the capital of the planet Krypton. According to the comic book legend, Superman’s father Jor-El sent his infant son to safety on Earth before Krypton’s destruction, saving his life but inadvertently sentencing Superman to a future of displacement, loneliness and longing.

Bottle 4 Video Projection
Bottle 4 Video Projection

Superman grows up believing that Kandor was destroyed, but later discovers his real home still exists: Kandor was stolen by intergalactic archvillain Brainiac prior to Krypton’s demise, shrunken to a miniature metropolis and left trapped inside a glass bottle. Superman ultimately wrestles Kandor away from Brainiac and hides it in his Fortress of Solitude, sustaining its citizens with tanks of Kryptonic atmosphere. As Kelley once explained, Kandor functions for Superman as ‘a perpetual reminder of his inability to escape the past, and his alienated relationship to his present world.’

Wall of Lenticluar Prints
Wall of Lenticluar Prints

While Kelley’s Kandors series relates to the artist’s longstanding preoccupation with memory, trauma, and repression, these works are also powerful vehicles for the formal investigations of color, light and scale that marked the last decade of the artist’s life. Kelley even described works from the series as being ‘akin to paintings by Henri Matisse’, but sculptural and in three dimensions. By focusing exclusively upon Kandors, the exhibition at Hauser & Wirth offers viewers fresh insight into the formal challenges, popular cultural references, and psychological states Kelley prioritized in his last years.

City 5
City 5

Entering the exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, visitors encounter a group of vitreous sculptures glowing in a dimly lit room. Cast in resin, these miniature metropolises representing the city of Kandor create an optically dazzling spectacle rendered in a palette of refracted colors.

Cities

City 20
City 20

City 15
City 15

City 17
City 17

Kandor 4

Visitors continue through the space to find Kandor 4 (2007), in which Kelley has abstracted and reinterpreted the narrative of the fictive city in a complex amalgamation. Kandor 4 comprises three cities standing on a plinth, illuminated from beneath, with their towering architectural skylines bathed in tones of yellow, red and blue.

Detail of Kandor 4
Kandor 4, Detail

Kandor 4

The fantastical cities are juxtaposed with an ultraviolet glass bottle resting on a yellow base, connected to a gas tank and hose intended to evoke the life sustaining vapors Superman used to keep the citizens of Kandor alive beneath their glass bell jar. In the final component, a video projection depicts Bottle 4 with an array of swirling atmospheric and light effects inside it, accompanied by an otherworldly soundtrack composed by Kelley.

Lenticular Print Blue Bottle

Each unique representation of Kandor in the exhibition derives from one of the many illustrations of the city by various artists in the Superman comics, beginning with Action Comics #242 (July 1958). Intrigued by the stylistic and architectural inconsistencies that marked Kandor’s representation in the ensuing half century, Kelley selected 20 strikingly diverse illustrations from the original comics’ panels.


Click to a Watch Video and Hear the Exhibit’s Otherworldly Soundtrack

He manipulated and superimposed the designs and colors of these illustrations, which he enlarged to life-scale and employed to create a group of lenticular light boxes. A selection of these light boxes illuminates the darkened hallway leading visitors to the exhibition’s innermost room and most significant element: Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude) (2011).

Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude)

Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude)

Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude)

Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude)

Film Still
Still from Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36

This version of Kelley’s Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36 (Vice Anglais) (2011) is a lightbox that juxtaposes the original found photograph with a still from his film.
Click to Watch Video

The climax and coda to the Kandors series, ‘Exploded Fortress of Solitude’ is a cavernous installation spread across the gallery’s main space. Exhibited here for the first time in the United States, this epic work is presented together with the video ‘Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36 (Vice Anglais)’ (2011), an unsettling but humorous satire that collides psychosexual and sadomasochistic drama with a repertoire of parodic clichés derived from British Hammer Horror films. The blackened exterior of Kelley’s monumental fortress contains a dimly lit cave-like environment surrounded by fragmented boulders, a gas tank, hoses, a buck, and chains, evoking a haunting sense of unease and menace.

Exploded Fortress of Solitude

Here, the artist shifted his formal investigations from color, light and transparency to ambitious sculptural gestures inflected by darkness and opacity. Exploded Fortress of Solitude is a ruin of textured, black-hued, faux boulders and slabs that draws viewers inside by the sheer force of its scale and mystery, while the murmuring acoustics of Vice Anglais layer the atmosphere with tension and anticipation.

Exploded Fortress of Solitude

In the video, the Exploded Fortress of Solitude serves as the backdrop for the exploits for Kelley’s gang of perverts; visitors exploring the cave are likewise subjected to the unsettling whimpers and debauchery of the English Vice.

Kandor 10 B Exploded Fortess of Solitude

One of the final works of the Kandors series, Exploded Fortress of Solitude suggests a dramatic denouement for the fated city, a possible catharsis not only for Superman but for Mike Kelley and for us. It emblematizes the extraordinary articulation that preoccupied Kelley in the years before his untimely death, between his two great serial enterprises of the 21st century, Kandors and the Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstructions.

Kandor 10 B Detail

From within the depths of Superman’s fortress, the visitor is reunited with the city of Kandor, now rendered as a glowing rose-colored emanation encased beneath a bell jar. Eerily illuminating the darkness of the rocky chamber, the roseate Kandor reveals that the crevices of Superman’s solitary sanctum sanctorum actually glitter with tiny gold trinkets.

Fortress of Solitude Jewels

The Fortress of Solitude has indeed exploded. Chaos has triumphed over order and long years of preservation have succumbed to galactic cataclysm – but we are left with a pot of gold. At the limit of loneliness and trauma, in an uncanny archaic place, we encounter a glittering symbol of duality – of hope and life, of wealth and greed.

Fortress of Solitude Jewels

Mike Kelley took his own life on January 31, 2012. RIP.

Mike Kelley will be on Exhibit through October 24th, 2015 at Hauser & Wirth, Located at 511 West 18th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Mike Kelley Signage

Orange City

Chartreuse City

Hauser & Wirth Presents Selections from the Reinhard Onnasch Collection

Claes Oldenberg
Claes Oldenberg Model for a Mahogany Plug, Scale B. 1969 (All Photos By Gail)

Hauser & Wirth’s cavernous space at 511 West 18th Street is currently hosting a selection of works from the collection of Reinhard Onnasch. A celebration of Onnasch’s longstanding passion for art and collecting, Re-View: Onnasch Collection is curated by Paul Schimmel, celebrated post-war scholar and Partner of Hauser Wirth & Schimmel.

Christo Wrapped Road Sign 1963
Christo Wrapped Road Sign 1963

The exhibition focuses on the period between 1950 and 1970, decades when New York’s cultural influence was unrivaled and some of the most important artistic movements of the 20th century were born. On view will be iconic examples of Pop Art, Fluxus, Color Field, Assemblage, Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism.

Claes Oldenberg Soft Medicine Cabinet
Claes Oldenberg Soft Medicine Cabinet, 1966

The collection will be on exhibit through April 12th, 2014.

KAWS Presents New Sculptures & Paintings at Mary Boone Gallery

Kaws Dual Figure
Along The Way, Wooden Sculpture By Kaws. All Photos By Gail

When you’ve got a big room, you’ve gotta fill it with big art, amiright? So it seems with Mary Boone’s current exhibit featuring two huge sculptures by pop artist KAWS. The sheer scale of these massive wooden figures immediately brought to mind Paul McCarthy’s recent White Snow exhibit at Hauser & Wirth.

Well, you can see by the human persons who would not get out of the way of my shots that both of these imposing sculptures, which depict KAWS’ familiar figure known as Companion, stand at over eighteen feet tall and almost reach the gallery roof! Fun!

At This Time
At This Time

Kaws Red Painting
Going as Friends

In the gallery’s much smaller rear room you can see three new paintings by KAWS, which are highly recognizable as following the artist’s signature style. I love the bold colors and round canvases he used for these paintings!

Kaws Blue Painting
Not Sure What This One is Called, But I Dig It

Kaws Afternoon Delight
Afternoon Delight

This is a fun show!

New Works By KAWS will be on Exhibit at The Mary Boone Gallery, Located at 541 West 24 Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District, through December 21st, 2013.

Matthew Day Jackson Exhibits Subtly Disturbing New Work at Hauser and Wirth

Matthew Day Jackson Something Ancient
All Photos By Gail

Part Surrealist Biology Lesson, Part Otherworldly Natural History Museum and Part Full On Horror Show, Artist Matthew Day Jackson’s latest exhibit, narratively titled Something Ancient, Something New, Something Stolen, Something Blue is sure to turn a few delicate stomachs as it blows minds and leaves jaws slack during its tenure at the gargantuan Hauser & Wirth space on West 18th Street.

Matthew Day Jackson Something Ancient

Matthew Day Jackson is a modern American frontiersman. His interdisciplinary practice is in an all-consuming campaign to chart the outermost limits of human physical experience and to locate the place just beyond those limits where the sublime might reside.

P1010285

Matthew Day Jackson Something Ancient
You Have No Idea How Long I had to Wait for Someone to Move so I Could Get This Shot

Working with a set of signature themes that range from space exploration and war machinery to advanced anatomy, he uses both traditional craft techniques and cutting edge computer mapping to make art that exposes the layered and often dark relationships between technology’s abstractions and the palpable effects of time.

Matthew Day Jackson Something Ancient

This exhibit fills three huge galleries and includes many more unique and thought provoking works of art than what I’ve included here. It’s well worth checking out before it closes in mid-October, and may even inspire ideas for your Halloween costume or party decorations! Recommended especially highly for fans of the Hellraiser film franchise!

Matthew Day Jackson Something Ancient

Matthew Day Jackson Something Ancient

Matthew Day Jackson’s Something Ancient, Something New, Something Stolen, Something Blue will be on Exhibit through October 19th, 2013, at Hauser & Wirth, Located at 511 West 18th Street, NY New York.

Matthew Day Jackson Something Ancient

Matthew Day Jackson Something Ancient Gallery Signage

Ceramic Giant Squid By David Zink Yi


Untitled (Architeuthis) By David Zink Yi, (Photo By Geoffrey Dicker)

Peruvian artist David Zink Yi works in all different types of artistic medium including film, photography and sculpture. Being recently featured in an atlasceramics.co.uk article has given the artist a boost of fame unprecedented in their career. Above, you can see his unique sculpture of a giant squid as displayed on the floor of the Houser & Wirth Gallery. The 16 foot long squid (weighing 660 pounds!) is crafted from ceramic coated with a lead and copper glaze. For this exhibit, the artist has it laying in a pool of what appears to be the squid’s own ink, but which is actually dyed corn syrup! Compare the photo above, which shows art fans mingling around the squid at this past Wednesday’s opening party, with the photo below of the squid on the gallery’s bare floor prior to staging, to get an idea of its impact. The squid is part of Zink Yi’s first New York City solo exhibition Pneuma, a group of seven experimental works that juxtaposes the various types of artwork through which Zink Yi expresses his vision.

David Zink Yi’s Pnuema is on Display through July 29, 2011, at Hauser & Wirth, Located at 32 East 69th Street, New York NY 10021. Gallery Hours Are Monday – Friday, 10 AM – 6 PM.