Friday, April 6, 2018
The great artists see it coming.
Back in their native Soviet Union, in the 1960s, collaborative artists Alexander Melamid and Vitaly Komar fashioned a body of work that deployed socialist realist tropes in comically magic realist and even downright Warholian terms, anticipating, by a good half century, this year’s film“Death of Stalin” (and for that matter the persistence of Putin). Following their arrival in America in 1978, they continued in much the same vein, though they broke up as a collaborative almost 15 years ago.
In February 2016, Melamid, for his part, flush off the success of his great urinal show (an extended revisioning of Duchamp’s epochal Fountain, on its 100th anniversary), decided to honor the 150thanniversary of Courbet’s scandalous Origin of the World (L’origine du Monde) with his own End of the World (Le But du Monde), a quite shocking portrayal of some guy’s (actually his own) naked rear end, cheeks spread, anus exposed and rampant. Talk about dialectical materialism: if his two ass-cheeks represented thesis and antithesis, where did that put the rest of us, his painting’s viewers? With this work, he anticipated, well, everything that was to follow through the rest of that year and, frankly, up till the present.
From April fifth to April twenty-eighth, Melamid’s will be the centerpiece, as it were, of an entire show given over to the theme of Assholes, with contributions from several dozen other artists, at the Plato’s Cave (!) exhibition space of EIDEA House in Brooklyn.
St Benedict might well have approved—or anyway understood. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine Order in the sixth century AD, taught that the foremost virtue of the righteous monk was “discretion.” Over the years, interpreters have differed over what exactly the good saint meant or was getting at, but some have cited the origin of the word, which is to say, dis-escretio, to infer that he might have been heralding the ability to know the difference between food and shit and to understand that each has its place (shit being good for fertilizer, say, but not for eating). Discretion being, therefore, precisely the virtue our civic culture stands most in need of during this Age of Trump.
So, what better time than these, our very own End Times, to make our way over to the show? And if it gets to be too much, we can always remember the old saw: What did the one butt-cheek say to the other? If we can just stick together, maybe we can put a stop to all this shit!
The “Assholes” exhibit will be on display at Plato’s Cave in Brooklyn from April 5th to April 28th, 2018.
Lawrence Weschler, Director Emeritus of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, is the author, most recently, of Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative.
Posted by Cabecilha at 7:16:00 PM
The modern history of the cut-up -begins with the advertising age and the Victorian craze for scrapbooks. Later, with Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism, collage became a form of modernist protest against bourgeois good taste. (Clement Greenberg called it “the pasted--paper revolution.”) Now collage and its close cousins—bricolage, décollage, and assemblage, all methods of crafting new work from old materials—are such familiar gestures that we may overlook the genre altogether. And yet collage has an aesthetic tradition all its own, one that honors materials and materiality, foregrounds handiwork, and exalts intimacy and whimsy while reclaiming the scraps of everyday life, whether these are candy-bar wrappers or postcards, matchstick boxes or newspaper ads.
“The notion of taking the vulgar bits and putting them in the context of a painting or a drawing, and calling it high art—that was certainly a revolutionary gesture at one time,” says Pavel Zoubok, a New York City gallerist devoted exclusively to collage and the curator of this portfolio. “I don’t know how much you can really violate anything anymore—people will alwaysbe cutting the heads off pictures of political figures and gluing them onto something else. But there is a whole new generation of artists embracing the medium and a whole new affection for collage,” he says. “People are naturally drawn to the tradition because it encompasses the things we know, the things we live with, and it embraces them out of a preservationist impulse—to save something that otherwise would be thrown away.” Collage is a cultural tool always near at hand: “It’s a more democratic medium—in theory we can all make a collage,” Zoubok says, careful to add, of course, that “collage is easier said than done.”
The following images cover much of the past century and reveal a family history of the genre, from the Dadaist fragments of Hannah Höch to the layered Pop of Joe Brainard, the arcane virtuoso Ray Johnson to the wunderkammer craftsman Joseph Cornell. Collages charged by jarring contrasts appear alongside painstaking pictorial compositions, some of which approach trompe l’oeil; two-dimensional tableaux are placed next to three-dimensional assemblage objects; the engaged beside the apolitical, and the elegant beside the rough—often within a single, eclectic work.
Posted by Cabecilha at 7:15:00 PM
Posted by Cabecilha at 6:07:00 PM