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In the 1960s, youth culture asserted itself, changing society’s rhythms of mass production and consumption, and generating a sense of upheaval and freedom. The Pop Art movement emerged, taking inspiration from mass media and the everyday. Bold colors, new material and radical forms characterized the work of artists and designers whose appropriation of the ordinary made brash or ironic statements.
Note: Tongue Chair in the Background
Italy’s anti-design movement of the mid-1960s and 1970s is fully expressed in the tongue-in-cheek spirit of the Pillola Lamps (1968, designed by C. Emanuele Ponzio, b, 1923). Challenging notices of “good design,” the anti-design movement took its visual cues from pop art’s use of bold colors and banal subject matter. Conceived as a group, the lamps look like oversized pills poured from a giant medicine bottle.
Mitchell-Innes & Nash is currently hosting the first major painting retrospective of Tom Wesselmann in New York since the artist’s death in 2004. Organized in partnership with the Tom Wesselmann Estate, the exhibition examines Wesselmann’s role as the great innovator of the American Pop generation and includes a dozen significant works spanning the artist’s career from 1961-2004. Gallery owner Lucy Mitchell-Innes explains that with this exhibition, they hope to show how Wesselmann has filtered the canonical subjects of art — still life, the nude and the landscape — through a unique and personal lens using the media and technical innovation of the sixties, seventies and eighties, offering new possibilities for painting.
Tom Wesselmann is one of the leading figures of Pop Art who used collage, assemblage and shaped canvases to usher in a new vocabulary of painting. He is best known for his career-spanning series, Great American Nude, which featured female figures in intensely saturated interiors.
The works in the exhibition highlight a number of techniques that Wesselmann pioneered, and which are largely unseen among his Pop contemporaries. In an interior still life from 1964, Wesselmann incorporates a functional fan and a clock into the canvas, (see image below) pushing the boundaries of collage and assemblage in a sly nod to the notion of the ‘represented’ object.
Collages from the 1960s feature cut-outs from advertising billboards. Also included in the show are Wesselmann’s steel-cut works (a technique he helped develop), molded plastic paintings (a technique borrowed from commercial signage and used here in the context of fine art for the first time), and his iconic shaped canvases.
Being a fantastic introduction to Tom Wesselmann (should you not already be familiar with his work) this is a very cool and worthwhile exhibit to add to your next art crawl during the month of May.
The Tom Wesselmann Retrospective will be on view through May 28, 2016 at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Located at 534 West 26th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
You never know what you will discover on a Saturday afternoon art crawl in the Chelsea Gallery District. What happens more than you can imagine is that Geoffrey I fall in love with the work of an artist who is new to us, despite them having a career that spans decades. Sometimes, that artist has already passed, and we have occasion to mourn a great loss at the same time that we are welcoming a lifetime of beautiful art into our own lives. Because when it comes to art, it is just impossible to know everything.
In this case, we stopped in to the Sikkema Jenkins & Co Gallery and were blown away by Visible Darkness / Invisible Darkness; a wonderful collection of large scale, fantasy paintings by Japanese pop artist, Keiichi Tanaami, who is still creating new work at 80 years old. Wow!
To me, his work reminds me of a mash up of Takashi Murakami and the surreal, adult animated series Superjail. If you know what that means, great. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter.
You could stand in front of one of Tanaami’s canvases and talk about what you see until you run out of words.
With work this beautiful and thought provoking, I was not surprised to learn that he is one of the leading pop artists of postwar Japan, and has been active as multi-genre artist since the 1960s as a graphic designer, illustrator, video artist and fine artist. He was also the first art director of the Japanese edition of Playboy magazine!
There was also a video monitor (seen above) showing animated works, with one image morphing into the next — very cool!
Sadly, this exhibit, Visible Darkness / Invisible Darkness, ended on the day of our visit, but you can learn more about the life and career of Keiicha Tanaami by visiting his Wikipedia page at This Link and see more images like these at Right Here!
When Robert Smithson died in a plane crash in 1973, his fame as an artist was based on his creation of monumental earthworks such as Spiral Jetty, or minimalist sculptures using both Mirrored and regular, plate Glass.
But the James Cohan Gallery (in their brand new space in Chinatown) just hosted its inaugural exhibit, Robert Smithson: Pop, which featured a collection of the artist’s work from the early 1960s — including fluorescent-colored pencil sketches of both male and female nudes, collages, and found object sculptures — all of which were completely unlike anything the average Smithson fan would have been familiar with. You can read more about the exhibit and see photos in this great article over at Hyperallergic.
I went to see Pop just few days before it closed and while I loved the exhibit, there was one piece that resonated particularly strongly with my aesthetic sensibilities. In the rear room of the gallery, along with a few drawings, there was a small portable Record Player inside a display vitrine. The box for the record player is covered in collaged pictures of men and women, tabloid headlines, and plastic trinkets and fake flowers.
Inside, the box has been filled with twigs and dried grass, which make a nest for a small, blue bird.
The turn table has been transformed into a hot pink pond, filled with tiny toys including neon swans, sail boats, and little plastic babies that float about on their backs across the pink surface. It is so cool and completely visually captivating; it’s hard to believe that Smithson’s early work of Pop Art is over 50 years old now! I never would have imagined, from the works of his that I already knew so well, that Robert Smithson had a body of work like this in his portfolio. I’m glad I was able to see and photograph it before the exhibit closed in mid-January.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Robert Smithson: Pop at James Cohan Gallery, Located at 291 Grand Street in Chinatown, NYC.
In December 1983, Roy Lichtenstein created Greene Street Mural, an unprecedented, site-specific and temporary wall painting measuring 18′ × 96 1/2′ at Leo Castelli Gallery, located at 142 Greene Street. In accordance with Lichtenstein’s intention, the work was destroyed after the six-week show.
More than thirty years later, Gagosian Gallery presents to a new generation of viewers a full-scale painted replica of the original work, based on documentation from Lichtenstein’s studio and produced by sign painters under the supervision of his former studio assistant.
In conjunction with the showing of the Mural, Gagosian has also collected an impressive selection of Lichtenstein’s distinctive, primary color paintings, along with a set of pyramid sculptures which I’ve never seen before.
When I attended the opening reception a couple of weeks back, there were fairly strict guidelines in place as to which works in which rooms on which walls could be photographed, and which could not. So much so that I lost track and just decided to snap as many photos as possible until somebody tried to stop me.
Because, seriously, it’s not like anyone at Gagosian is going to even see this post, let alone suddenly become an avid reader of this blog. So, who gives a shit.
Here are some of my favorite paintings from the show!
Aren’t these amazing? He was so talented.
The reclining head in the foreground reminds me of This. I doubt that is an accident.
Don’t Miss this Exhibit!
Roy Lichtenstein: Greene Street Mural is on view at Gagosian Gallery, Located at 555 West 24th Street, New York, through October 17th, 2015.
The triangular mass of Claes Oldenburg’s Giant BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich”) 1963, is actually constructed from many smaller sculptural components including wood slabs, stuffed cushions and fabric pieces, which must be restacked each time the work is shown, allowing ample room for creative variation.
In the above video, the Whitney Museum’s curator supervises and discusses the installation of Giant BLT, and how Oldenburg’s work invites the viewer to look at the world with “fresh eyes.”