Carved 323.5k Moon Gold Leaf on Molten Black Encaustic Bees Wax (Photo By Gail)
Ryan Weston Shook, also known as Saber, titled I Saw It in a Dream (2019) after a quote by Abstract Expressionist painter Jasper Johns and created the piece via an encaustic wax process, its layers creating a textural surface. The flag symbolism has evolved with the artist over the years, with him questioning its meaning for broad swath of people. Saber’s paintings borrow elements, techniques and materials that he once used as a 21-year-old, rising to international fame in 1996 after painting the world’s largest graffiti piece on the bank of the Los Angeles River. Eight years after the fact, the LA County Museum of Natural History commissioned him to paint a miniature version of his piece on its riverbed diorama. The visibility of this 250-by-55-foor work (documented by satellites in space) and his years of press coverage for other creations shined a glaring public spotlight on the form. The artist’s studio work exemplifies his further exploration of movement and energy.
Photographed as part of Beyond The Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Jasper Johns began to incorporate a cross-hatch pattern in his paintings after seeing it on a car: “It had all the qualities that interest me — literalness, repetitiveness, an obsessive quality, order with dumbness, and the possibility of a complete lack of meaning.” Using encaustic, a method of paint that suspends pigment in hot wax, Johns created lush, layered paintings with richly textured surfaces.
Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait Between the Clock and The Bed
Between The Clock and The Bed (1981) reference’s Self-Portrait Between The Clock and The Bed (1940 – 43), one of artist Edvard Munch’s last works.
Jasper Johns Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art NYC. Edvard Munch Photographed in the Met Breuer, NYC.
Laying in the bathtub one day, Jasper Johns contemplated what he described as a series of images that ran “through my head without any connectedness that I could see.” Racing Thoughts (1983) contains elements of this scene, such as the hanging khaki pants and running faucet. It also features the subjects of John’s musings, including a puzzle-portrait of his longtime dealer, Leo Castelli, a pot by ceramicist George Ohr, a lithograph by Barnett Newman, and reproduction of the Mona Lisa— all influences on John’s artistic development.
By arranging these images in this way, seemingly affixed to the faux-wood-grain background with trompe l’oeil tape, thumbtacks and a protruding nail, he links them to his career-long preoccupation with illusionism and ambiguity. Disparate though the composition’s elements may be, they are united by a complex web of art historical and personal associations that conjure an image of the artist himself.
In the mid-1950s, Jasper Johns incorporated symbols such as numbers, flags, maps, and targets into his paintings. Here, he transforms the familiar image of a target into a tangible object by building up the surface with wax encaustic. As a result, the concentric circles have become less precise and more tactile. Above the target, Johns has added four cropped and eyeless faces, plaster casts taken from a single model over a period of several months. Their sculptural presence reinforces the objectness of the painting, particularly as the faces may be shut away in their niches behind a hinged wooden door.
See Elaine Sturtevant’s copy of this 1955 work at This Link.
Gonzalez-Torres Untitled America (2004) By Sturtevant (All Photos By Gail)
When Geoffrey and I were at MOMA a week or so ago to see the Matisse Cut Outs exhibit, we accidentally stumbled upon another fantastic exhibit which we’d somehow managed to avoid even knowing about: Double Trouble — featuring the works of the late Pop artist, Sturtevant — which is nearing the end of its run in just a couple of weeks. You should not miss this exhibit if at all possible.
In the likely case that you have no idea who Sturtevant even was, here is a bunch of background information on the artist that I ripped off from her Wikipedia page! Elaine Frances Sturtevant, also known simply as Sturtevant, was an American artist who achieved recognition for her carefully inexact repetitions of other artists’ works that prefigured appropriation.
Duchamp Fresh Widow, (1992 – 2012)
Sturtevant spent the first years of her life working in New York, where she began in 1965 to manually reproduce paintings and objects created by her contemporaries with results that can immediately be identified with an original. Sturtevant thus turned the concept of originality on its head. All of her works are copies of the works of other artists; none is an original. She initially focused on works by such American artists as Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. Warhol gave Sturtevant one of his silkscreens so she could produce her own versions of his Flowers paintings.
Johns Target with Four Faces (Study), (1986)
After a Jasper Johns flag painting that was a component of Robert Rauschenberg’s combine Short Circuit was stolen, Rauschenberg commissioned Sturtevant to paint a reproduction, which was subsequently incorporated into the combine.
Elastic Tango (2010), Nine Chanel Video Installation
From the early 1980s she focused on the next generation of artists, including Robert Gober, Anselm Kiefer, Paul McCarthy, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres (see first photo in this post). She mastered painting, sculpture, photography and film in order to produce a full range of copies of the works of her chosen artists. In most cases, her decision to start copying an artist happened before those artists achieved broader recognition. Nearly all of the artists she chose to copy are today considered iconic for their time or style. This has given rise to discussions amongst art critics on how it had been possible for Sturtevant to identify those artists at such an early stage.
Kill (2003-2014) Digitally Printed Vinyl Wallpaper inspired by the 2003 Quentin Tarrantino Film, Kill Bill
Ethelred II (1961), Oil on Canvas with Inside-Out Paint Tube
Rather than taking the form of a traditional retrospective, Double Trouble offers a historical overview of her work from a contemporary vantage point, interspersing more recent video pieces among key artworks from all periods of Sturtevant’s career. Elaine Sturtevant passed away in May of 2014 at the age of 89.
Sturtevant: Double Trouble will be on Exhibit only until February 22nd, 2015 at MOMA, Located at 11 West 53rd Street, NYC.
“One night I dreamed that I painted a large American flag,” Johns has said of this work, “and the next morning I got up and I went out and bought the materials to begin it.” Those materials included three canvases that he mounted on plywood, strips of newspaper, and encaustic paint—a mixture of pigment and molten wax that has formed a surface of lumps and smears.
The newspaper scraps visible beneath the stripes and forty-eight stars lend this icon historical specificity. The American flag is something “the mind already knows,” Johns has said, but its execution complicates the representation and invites close inspection. A critic of the time encapsulated this painting’s ambivalence, asking, “Is this a flag or a painting?”
Jasper Johns was born May 15th, 1930 and currently lives in Sharon, Connecticut. Flag is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Suicide By Modernism By Mark Kostabi (2005/2011) Photo By Geoffrey Dicker
The Adam Baumgold Gallery on New York’s Upper East Side is currently hosting a group show called Art on Art, in which each artist references other artists or artworks in his or her own creation. This makes for a diverse collection full of humorous touches that inspired a lot of lively conversation at last night’s opening. My favorite painting in the exhibit is Mark Kostabi’s Suicide by Modernism, which has the artist’s unmistakable imprint while managing to reference nearly a dozen of his famous peers. Suicide By Modernism very cleverly depicts one of Kostabi’s iconic figures hanging limp from the arm of an Alexander Calder mobile, from which highly recognizable works by Piet Mondrian, Takashi Murakami, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Mark Rothko and Yves Klein also dangle. Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel sculpture appears, overturned, in the painting’s foreground. Mark Kostabi was at the opening party and he seems like a really cool guy. It was nice to be able to shake his hand and tell him how much I loved this painting in particular, and his work in general. Mark Kostabi!
You can read the exhibit press release and see a preview of many of the included paintings, drawings and sculptures online at Adam Baumgold Gallery Dot Com. I’d recommend making the trip uptown, however, to see the works in person, and make sure you take a walk up or down Park Avenue while you’re in the neighborhood to see Will Ryman’s Roses sculpture installation (57th to 67th Streets on the Avenue’s central traffic island), which are just amazing, and on display only until May 31st.
Art on Art runs through June 25, 2011, at Adam Baumgold, located at 60 East 66th Street (Between Park and Madison Avenues) in NYC. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11:00 AM to 5:30 PM. For additional information, please contact Adam Baumgold at (212) 861-7338, or email email@example.com.