One evening last summer, I was at The Odeon on West Broadway for my friend Robin‘s Birthday dinner, when I spotted this lovely Pink Handgbag and matching Cosmo, sitting on the bar. And now, it is immortalized on this blog!
Kay Kurt (b. 1944) is a New Realist painter of large-scale confections. Her candies lay the foundation of her compositions, structuring her canvases abstractly, and freeing her to meditate on content. As Richard Hamilton, Robert Watts and Claes Oldenburg also used candies as subject matter — and she often enlarges the scale tenfold, like a billboard — Kurt’s work became associated with Pop Art early on. The scale of the Pop Art movement opened Kurt’s eyes to the possibility of a new vision based on objects instead of landscape.
Typical candies featured in her body of work include Licorice, Bon Bons, Jordan Almonds, Jujubes and Gummi Bears. She chooses and collects these candies from various countries, being specifically interested in those of German origin, which reflect the values, attitudes, and cultures associated with the people who produce them. She does not used mediated or advertising images like the Pop Artists, nor photographs like the Photorealists. These paintings are developed through observation. Kurt prefers painting generic-looking candy, as the luxurious ones are too refined for her taste. The sole instance of exquisite candy in her oeuvre is a Godiva chocolate box painting that she made for a friend. Her choice of subject reflects her interest in mass production and consumer culture around the world.
Compulsive and exacting to an extreme, Kurt can take years to complete a canvas. As the 1980s progressed, Kurt gradually found herself excluded from the New York art world where she had found acclaim for over a decade. Although never giving up on her painting practice, she almost completely withdrew from the public eye and it was not until her inclusion in the 2010 traveling exhibition, Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958-1968 presented at the Brooklyn Museum, that her work was re-introduced.
Hallelujah (1995-2016) is part of the exhibit Kay Kurt: For All Her Innocent Airs, She Knew Exactly Where She Was Going, on view through February 16th, 2017 at Albertz Benda Gallery, Located at 515 West 26th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
David Zwirner Gallery is currently hosting its first exhibition with William Eggleston since having announced the gallery’s exclusive worldwide representation of the artist. On view at the space on West 20th Street in New York are works from Eggleston’s monumental project The Democratic Forest.
Over the course of nearly six decades, Eggleston has established a singular pictorial style that deftly combines vernacular subject matter with an innate and sophisticated understanding of color, form, and composition. His photographs transform the ordinary into distinctive, poetic images that eschew fixed meaning.
His 1976 solo exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, curated by John Szarkowski, marked the first presentation of color photography at the museum. Although initially criticized for its unfamiliar approach, the show and its accompanying catalogue, William Eggleston’s Guide, heralded an important moment in the medium’s acceptance within the art historical canon, and it solidified the artist’s position as one of its foremost practitioners to this date. Eggleston’s work continues to exert an influence on contemporary visual culture at large.
The Democratic Forest is among Eggleston’s most ambitious projects and a prime example of his uniquely recognizable aesthetic. Likened to an epic journey or an enduring narrative, it comprises a careful selection of works from over ten thousand negatives he took in the mid-1980s across the southern and eastern parts of America and in several European countries.
These low profile casters of rural back roads, industrial and residential environs, architectural details, restaurant interiors, and parking lots, among other locales, eluded the conventions of both reportage and the black-and-white art photography practiced by many of the artist’s peers at the time, and instead shaped their own definition of what a photographic image could be—intuitive and charged with imaginative possibilities.
Collectively, the project echoes Eggleston’s predilection for the “democratic” vision of the camera, able to render equally what is in front of the lens.
The show will include over forty works from The Democratic Forest, the majority of which have not been exhibited previously. Although taken thirty years ago, the photographs appear to cast their subjects in a timeless light.
As the art historian Alexander Nemerov writes in a new catalogue published by David Zwirner Books/Steidl on the occasion of the show:
Eggleston’s work—the great flow of it— feels…impelled by the world. It feels, to put it another way, pulled along by the world, by things outside the artist, rather than compelled by something inside him….[O]ne feels him being borne along by a current… [T]he current [he] rides along is simply the proliferation of scenes — the great panoramic film strip of it, never ending in its flow of gas stations and horse buggies and parking lots and roadside trees and filigreed urns stamped in tin. But more than that…there is the feeling that the infiniteness of the world, the sheer extent of it, is its own kind of eternity.
William Eggleston was born in 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee, where he continues to live today.
William Eggleston’s The Democratic Forest will be on Exhibit Through December 17th, 2016 at David Zwirner Gallery, Located at 537 West 20th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.
The contemporary fine artist known as Desire Obtain Cherish (real name: Jonathan Paul) has a new exhibit at Unix Gallery, which is called Servant to Infinite Distraction, and it is pretty sweet.
In previous DOC exhibits, we have mostly seen the artist’s iconic, Pop Art sculptures, such as his oversized Blow Pops, but while the new exhibit does feature new sculptures, here DOC experiments with abstract canvases that mix black and white prints with thick swathes of brightly-colored oil paints, for a very cerebrally compelling visual impact. Tablets of the anticonvulsant medication Klonopin are a reoccurring motif.
Pills show up on other canvases as well, such as the “painting” above, which creates a classic floral still life from pharmaceutical capsules filed with colored pigment.
Here’s another Still Life with Pills, and a detail shot below.
The pair of white, child-scale, mannequin-like sculptures called Nuero Girl and Nuero Boy have what looks like velvet-covered, amorphous masses enveloping their heads, feet and hands. Very fun!
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.
Gerald Clery Murphy (1888 – 1964) and his wife, Sara Sherman Wiborg were wealthy, expatriate Americans who moved to the French Riviera in the early 20th century and who, with their generous hospitality and flair for parties, created a vibrant social circle, particularly in the 1920s, that included a great number of artists and writers including Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Fernand Léger, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Archibald MacLeish, John O’Hara, Cole Porter, Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley.
While Murphy only painted from 1921 until 1929; he is known for his hard-edged still life paintings in a Precisionist, Cubist style. During the 1920s Gerald Murphy, along with other American modernist painters in Europe, notably Charles Demuth and Stuart Davis created paintings prefiguring the pop art movement that contained pop culture imagery, such as mundane objects culled from American commercial products and advertising design.
During his short career as an artist, Gerald Murphy produced only about fourteen paintings. Key among them is Cocktail, a bold, stylized still life comprised of flattened geometric shapes, overlapping forms, and spatially illogical juxtapositions. A poignant memento of the urban, sophisticated lifestyle of the Jazz Age, the painting’s formal qualities are reminiscent of French Cubism as well as the industrial aesthetic of the American Precisionists. Yet Cocktail is also distinguished by its uniquely autobiographical approach.
The depicted accoutrements of a typical 1920s bar tray were based on Murphy’s memory of his father’s bar accessories, and the five cigars represent the artist, his wife, and their three children. The illusionistic depiction of the box cover, which alone took four months to complete, shows a robed woman surrounded by items that allude to Murphy himself, including a pontoon boat (he was an avid sailor) and an artist’s palette. By celebrating a ritual that was forbidden during Prohibition in America, but which became a distinctive feature of European life during the 1920s, the painting also affirms Murphy’s status as a stylish and worldly expatriate.
Photographed in the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC.
This Soundsuit (2008), embellished with fake flowers and leaves, transforms the human body into an ornate still life. Nick Cave took a traditional genre of painting and reshaped it into a contemporary sculpture with the potential to come to life. Cave has been fabricating these sculptures since the early 1990s.
Made to be worn, each Soundsuit allows the wearer to try on a new identity. The suit draws on various cultural and religious rituals ranging from ceremonial African dances to Christian services, masking the identities of the wearers and making them assume the persona of the costume.