Sunday, November 12, 2017

Wall Power: Murals, Ephemeral...

Artspace Logo


Wall Power: Murals in Two Chelsea Shows, Ephemeral as Mayflies, Subvert the Sky-High Real Estate Market

Wall Power: Murals in Two Chelsea Shows, Ephemeral as Mayflies, Subvert the Sky-High Real Estate Market
Works by Daniel Buren, Angela Bulloch, Lawrence Weiner, and Ricci Albenda, in "Hello Walls" at Gladstone Gallery, June 26-July 31, 2015. Installation View: Gladstone Gallery, New York. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Photograph by David Regen.
As more luxury high-rises muscle in on Tenth Avenue and more mid-level Chelsea galleries flee to the Lower East Side and Brooklyn, two summer shows in the neighborhood look especially pertinent. Both feature the medium of wall painting, and both comment, in ways deliberate and not, on the interdependency of art and real estate.
Mel Bochner made that connection explicit in his “Measurement” pieces of the late 1960s, demarcating the dimensions of the gallery with black tape on its walls, windows, and doors. So it makes sense that “Hello Walls,” which fills Gladstone Gallery’s two branches in Chelsea, opens with another of Bochner’s early works: the white-on-black text piece Forgetting Is the Only Continuum, originally from 1969, in which the title words appear scrawled in white on a black stripe that runs nearly the length of the 24th Street gallery’s largest room.

Buren and BochnerInstallation view of "Hello Walls" at Gladstone Gallery, New York, June 26-July 31, 2015.  Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Photograph by David Regen. 
Other artists associated with the conceptual wall painting and drawing of that era are also in the mix: Sol LeWitt, in an immersive piece from 1980 of red and yellow crayon on a dreamy Mediterranean-blue background, and Lawrence Weiner, with a typically ambiguous text in his signature sign-painter’s lettering. So are heirs to that tradition like Karl Holmqvist, whose Bebe Coca wall drawing looks like a word puzzle and connects to his poetry and spoken-word performances, and Ricci Albenda, whose vinyl wall transfer maps the alphabet onto the color spectrum so as to make synaesthetes of us all.

Holmqvist and LeWittInstallation view of "Hello Walls" at Gladstone Gallery, New York, June 26-July 31, 2015.  Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Photograph by David Regen. 
For all these references to the scrappy history of conceptual wall art (not to mention the plaintive Willie Nelson song from which it draws its title), “Hello Walls” is ultimately a show that's tailored to the current moment in Chelsea—which is to say, some of its wall paintings find artists doing what they normally do on an inflated scale. The wall becomes just another canvas.
It’s especially apparent at the 21st Street branch, where the gallery took the strange step of building a freestanding structure in the middle of the gallery to house the paintings and left the surrounding walls untouched. There, Michael Craig-Martin’s To Go, an inkjet print on coated polyester fabric that blows a plastic coffee-cup lid up to heroic proportions, even seems to wink at wall painting's associations with the ephemeral, disposable, and site-specific.

Craig-Martin and RondinoneInstallation view of "Hello Walls" at Gladstone Gallery, New York, June 26-July 31, 2015.  Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Photograph by David Regen.
Meanwhile, all of the seven wall paintings in “Anthems for the Mother Earth Goddess” at Andrew Edlin are scheduled to be destroyed at the end of the show—and not because they are being painted over for the next exhibition. The walls themselves will be coming down, as the four-story building at 134 Tenth Avenue is demolished to make way for—what else?—a high-rise condo. (The gallery will be moving to 212 Bowery this fall, after 13 years in Chelsea.)
The show’s putative theme is the environment, and the artists attack it with various degrees of focus. At one extreme is Peter Fend, whose hallway painting unfolds as a detailed, step-by-step proposal for adapting Russian nuclear-missile submarines for the collection of algae and plastic in the world’s oceans. At the other is Kevin Sampson, whose strident, symbol-rich Fruit of the Poisonous Tree leaps from climate change to police violence, transgender rights, and a host of other topics in the current news cycle.

Peter FendPeter Fend, Olya: An Algae/Plastic Harvesting and Biofuel Production Submarine based on a Russian Nuclear-Missile Submarine Design, 2015.
The future of Chelsea looks especially grim in Chris Doyle’s homage to Thomas Cole’s portentous painting cycle “Course of Empire.” Doyle’s flattened, street-art-style version, Everhigher, shows huge waves sloshing through the neighborhood—“an imaginary Chelsea as a water park,” in the artist’s words, which sounds fanciful but is no joke to those who were in the area during Hurricane Sandy.

Chris DoyleChris Doyle, Everhigher, 2015.
Wall painting, for most of these artists, is primarily a way of telegraphing urgency. Few of them seem to be thinking about other reasons for painting on the wall, or contemplating the new options for distribution and documentation offered by social and digital media.
One exception is the veteran San Francisco street artist Rigo 23, whose concise info-graphic at Edlin shows the remaining nations on earth without mandatory paid maternity leave (placing the United States in the company of Micronesia and Papua New Guinea). “It can be ‘cultural landscape painting or ‘minimalist text and data painting,’” his statement reads, “but it is also a mural painted in 2015 on the wall of an Art Gallery in the heart of Earth’s leaders in fashion and advertising.” It's a piece that's designed to live on both Facebook walls and the brick-and-mortar variety.

RigoRigo 23, Present Tense, 2015.

Color Palettes by Decade

Artspace Logo


Color Palettes by Decade: 10 Artworks to Give Your Home a Blast from the Past

Color Palettes by Decade: 10 Artworks to Give Your Home a Blast from the Past
Marion Hall Best Interior, Image courtesy of Sydney Living Museums
Choosing art for your home involves a number of factors. First, you have to fall in love with a piece. That's the easy part. Then you have to think about where you're going to hang it, and whether it will either match or clash with your lamp, your couch, or your dog. Ultimately, it all comes down to color palettes. Color can change the energy of a space immensely. It can make a room feel warm or cool; funky and energetic or calming and soothing. (Just think of how that cool-toned ocean landscape painting at your dentist's office makes you forget for a moment about your impending discomfort).
Contemporary interior design trends are increasingly making moves towards minimalism: clean, neutral-toned, functional spaces are in. But if you're longing for the days when design was wacky and weird like say, Alex's parents house in A Clockwork Orange, fret not. Uncluttered space is actually a good thing. Think of it as a blank canvas upon which to express your inner spirit, with art! 
A great way to bring color into your space is to look to the color palettes of the past for inspiration. (VH1's I Love the '70s/'80s/'90s anyone?) In honor of their 50th anniversary, Pantone studied the trends in color palettes over the past 50-ish years. We surveyed their picks along with the historical milestones of each period, looking at the links between color, culture, mood, and psyche. To make it fun, we chose a few works that reflect the color schemes of each decade, to help brighten up your space with a bit of historical inspiration. 

The '60s 
Image 11
60sImages courtesy of Pantone; Huffington Post
Referred to by some as "The Acid Aesthetic," '60s design was undoubtedly influenced by the counterculture movement and the rise of hallucinogenic drugs, namely LSD. The era was marked by experimentation and mysticism, and vivid and bright kaleidoscopic colors. Design harkened to late-19th century Art Nouveau graphic design elements and surrealist subject matter. Bold prints, color blocking, and repetitive, optically stimulating patterns were popular design elements. Social revolution and youth culture meant the more saturated, the better. 

The '70s
Image 10
70sImages courtesy of Pantone; Pinterest
Reflecting the mood of a post-Vietnam, recession-era America, '70s color palettes dialed down the bright tones of the '60s. Fashion and interior design took on an earthy, rich warmth, with mossy greens, rusty browns and reds, and deep, muted oranges and yellows. However, despite their muted tones, the color palette of the '70s was far from drab. (Hello, Soul Train!) It was a move back to nature, literally and aesthetically. People started talking about the environment, discussing issues like pollution and oil consumption. 

The '80s
Image 9
Image 0Images courtesy of Pantone; Pinterest
Oh, the '80s. It's hard not to have a certain fondness for the over-the-top design elements of the decade. Designs of the decade prove that people were most certainly not afraid to use as much and as garish a color as possible. Regarded by many as "so bad it's good," '80s design was lavish, excessive, and utilized a whole lot of purple. Think neon, kitsch, glass and glam. It was the peak of Madonna's career, after all. 

The '90s
Image 8
Image 5Images courtesy of Pantone; The Real Estate Conversation
The '90s were pretty weird. It's like everyone simultaneously got a scrunchie headache and  woke up from a neon fever dream into an angsty teenage sitcom where oversized ripped denim and flannel are in, the couches are plaid, and everyone's hopped up on coffee, cereal, and cartoons. When I think of the '90s, I think first of the iconic pre-teen bedroom; the walls covered in band posters, VHS tapes, and beanbag chairs. Youth culture aesthetics derived from the neon '80s, while interior design moved towards more muted tones. 
The '00s 
Image 7
2000sImages courtesy of Pantone; Fresh Home
Let's face it, technology has made, for lack of a better word, a complete clusterf*ck of contemporary design. Chrome and glass buildings are erected daily; silver and grey cars line the roads; minimal interior design is equated with luxury; while Forever21 rips off popular trends of the past five decades faster than teen girls can get to the mall. 
It's difficult to speculate exactly what the design aesthetic of the modern day would reduce to in time, but from a brief review of interior design catalogues, it seems that contemporary luxury aesthetic abides by the good old KISS rule, i.e. "Keep it simple, stupid!" Colors are largely associated with branding: McDonald's Red, Starbucks Green, Victoria's Secret Pink, Apple Grey, Facebook Blue, Chanel Black, Dunkin' Donuts Orange, Shell Yellow. Contemporary artists respond to this in a number of ways: some reclaiming color as a facet of counterculture and expression; and some embracing neutral, muted tones which reflect the digital lexicon of the age. 
At the risk of sounding terribly cliché: Color tells a story. Popular color schemes of each decade are telling of the over-arching socio-political psyche at the time. They reflect post-war anxieties; counter-cultural energy; sexual liberation; vivacious spirits and youthful playfulness; and let's be honest, popular drug culture. It's what makes watching old color films, from The Wizard of Oz to Videodrome, so exhilarating. Don't be afraid to bring some color into your life. Collage it up, and make it your own.