Her canvases are vast, and painted in bold swathes of cartoonishly bright colors. The subject matter is intensely physical and often unsettling: bodily functions, explosions of emotion, and sometimes apocalyptic scenes of death and disaster.
Zhang transformed Mr. Quaker into Chairman Mao five years after he emigrated to the United States. The birth of Chinese “Political Pop” took place in his New York studio. This is an ironical state of affairs, all the more apparent in Six Pack of Kekou Kele, created in 2002. Is Zhang commenting here on the way that China’s millennia-old civilization is being crassly mass-marketed to enhance its leading role in the global economy? Or is it a subtle indictment of the West’s heedless consumerism, so oblivious to culture that it can appreciate nothing unless it is a familiar brand product beckoning from the supermarket shelf?
Earnest rather than ironic, unashamedly idealistic, unafraid of appearing amateurish and haphazard, many of the contents of this exhibition have the air of artifacts from a lost world.
Here, Gish finds herself amidst a riot of Freudian imagery – snakes, earthworms, and phallic blades of grass; mysterious pulsating eggs that seem to ooze blood. Among the few touches of color (added by hand) are splashes of red in Gish’s clothes (and oozing from those eggs). These, along with the old house deep in a tangled wood which forms the setting, evoke Little Red Riding Hood, perhaps the modern world’s favorite fable of sexual awakening and sexual danger.
The pieces presented in this forty-year retrospective are bright and smooth, often dauntingly large, and composed of multiple parts that cluster together like organisms in an ecosystem or diverse components within a cell. They are frequently plantlike, vital and faintly menacing, and sport attachments that suggest insect pincers or lobster claws. They’re organic and goofy, as if they’d grown themselves, rather than being made. Yet at the same time there is something stubbornly artificial in their fantastic symmetries.
A work such as Nam June Paik’s Electronic Fish of 1986, constructed from a 1948 wooden Philco television console converted into an aquarium, fitted with a soundtrack recorded on audiocassette playing on a vintage 1980s car stereo, and tuned to an analog TV signal, poses conservational challenges as daunting as any presented by a crumbling quattrocento fresco.
There is a big fuss about Pure Beauty, John Baldessari’s retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. And there should be. While his work has been shown here and internationally since the 1980s, this exhibition comprises the first major survey of Baldessari’s work in the United States in over twenty years. It was about time.
The Tea and Coffee Piazza sets, produced in limited editions of ninety-nine, with three artist’s proofs, were a critical success. The project served to introduce Michael Graves to the Alessi “stable,” while traveling exhibits informed museum patrons on the ways that high art and industrial design could form working partnerships. Mendini’s original conception was vindicated.
On October 6, 2010, Kathleen Folden, identified in the media as a 56-year-old truck driver from Kalispell, Montana, smashed her way into a display case at the Loveland Art Museum in Loveland, Colorado with a crowbar. Her purpose was to destroy a work of art, a multi-panel lithograph by Enrique Chagoya entitled “The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals.”
The exhibition brings such elements together to form a compelling meditation on the extreme reaches of art, technology, and militarism, and on the role of the vast, sun-struck spaces of the American West as an arena for all these forces.
Yiull Damaso has achieved a true artistic milestone. He has created what is quite possibly the most offensive image ever made. The BBC reports that the forty-one year old South African artist is completing a large painting depicting former South African president and Nobel Laureate, Nelson Mandela as a corpse in the process of being dissected.
A quartet of anatomical drawings from Munich, printed perhaps a hundred years ago, are especially lovely. Lakra has “tattooed” the forearms and torsos with pale blue marks; he has also transformed a man into a saint, blending science and religion, art and iconography, showing that decoration can sanctify or vandalize.
Student and then teacher at the legendary Bauhaus school, Bayer exercised his talents in fields as diverse as typography, architecture, and sculpture. He designed covers for Harper’s Bazaar, and applied his graphic talents to toothpaste and nose drops, moving easily from the cultural hothouse of Weimar Germany to the postwar corporate America of Don Draper.
While Briggs subject matter is unpleasant, her work has a dark beauty and an immediacy not often seen in contemporary art. Its visual strength and documentary quality compels you to keep looking and inspires you to learn more about the tragic situation that she chronicles.