Must See Art: Tom Wesselmann at Gagosian Beverly Hills

‘Still Life #29,’ 1963, Oil and printed paper collaged on canvas, 9′ x 12′, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

This Thursday, Gagosian Beverly Hills will be launching a solo exhibition of rare works by Pop Art notable Tom Wesselmann. Wesselmann: 1963-1983 will feature seven pieces created by the artist, none of which have ever been shown on the West Coast. On view until August, the exhibition will showcase the commercial billboards Wesselmann began painting in 1962.

 

‘Still Life #61,’ 1976, Oil on shaped canvas in 4 parts, 8’8.5″ x 32’7″ x 6’7″, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

Born in Cincinnati in 1931, Wesselmann was an influential figure in the Pop Art world, with his massive paintings that recontextualized images from popular culture, like the Volkswagen Beetle seen in ‘Still Life #29.’

“I used what was around me, so my culture was what I used,” he once said about his work.

Part of ‘The Standing Still Lifes’ series, the seven works in Wesselmann: 1963-1983 were a highlight in the artist’s long career. Comprised of multiple canvases shaped like the objects they depict and mounted on both the wall and the ground, the pieces are three-dimensional scenescapes that pull you into their world. Known primarily for his work that showcases the female figure, these paintings incorporate everyday objects in exaggerated sizes, exploring sexuality and surrealism in an emotional and experimental way.

 

‘Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette,’ 1981, Oil on shaped canvas in 4 parts, 9′ x 18’5″ x 5’6″, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

“Wesselmann is an artist well known for his forthright and original standpoint on sexuality,” explains Jason Ysenburg, Director at Gagosian, “but that is only a part of his story. In the ‘Still Lifes,’ ‘Standing Still Lifes’ and ‘Bedroom Paintings,’ we are offered a glimpse into an enchanted world where scale, content and the juxtaposition of materials and images is surprising and innovative,” he continues. “What transpires are a group of paintings where sexuality is often implied rather than overtly expressed.”

Since his death in 2004, Wesselmann’s work has become only more sought after, and has been included in multiple exhibitions at The Whitney and MoMA. This latest exhibition follows another recent showcase, Tom Wesselmann: Standing Still Lifes at Gagosian in New York.

 

Wesselmann: 1963-1983 is on view from July 12 to August 24 at Gagosian Beverly Hills.

 

Photos: ‘Still Life #29’ by Jeffrey Sturges; ‘Still Life #61’ & ‘Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette’ by Rob McKeever; all courtesy the Estate of Tom Wesselmann and Gagosian

10 Artists You Have To See At This Year’s Armory Show

Nam June Paik, ‘Megatron Matrix’, photo courtesy of Ryan Somma

 

The Armory is basically the Coachella of the art world – well, sans the ecstasy and the floral headbands. But anyone who’s anyone (or has ever been at some point in time) will gather at Piers 92 and 94 in Manhattan to browse New York’s largest art fair and see work from both emerging and legendary global artists.

Since that can be a bit overwhelming, we’ve done you a solid and put together a list of 10 artists you won’t want to miss at this year’s show. Trust us.

 

Douglas Coupland at Daniel Faria

 

‘Tsunami Chest,’ 2017, photo courtesy of Daniel Faria Gallery

 

Postmodern artist and fiction author Douglas Coupland is known for subverting pop culture and military imagery, in part due to his time growing up in a military family throughout the Cold War. Fascinated by Andy Warhol and the whole Pop Art movement, Coupland explores the darker side of popular culture through installation and sculpture.

Gilbert & George at Ropac

 

‘Beardache,’ 2016, photo courtesy of the artist

 

Collaborative art duo Gilbert & George are known for their highly formalized performance art practice, as well as their, um, not so formal photography work. Their ongoing photo series, referred to as The Pictures, features large scale back-lit images of everything from skinheads to semen, and a whole lot of beards.

 

Kyle Meyer at Yossi Milo

 

From ‘Interwoven,’ 2017, photo courtesy of the artist

 

Kyle Meyer is a photographer, sculptor and mixed media artist who uses digital photography and a variety of handmade techniques, such as weaving, to explore connectivity in the digital age. For his series, Interwoven, Meyer hand-wove over photographs to celebrate flamboyance, homosexuality and femme-identifying men in a hyper-masculine culture.

 

Cammie Staros at Shulamit Nazarian

 

‘All Quiver and Shake,’ 2017, photo courtesy of the artist

 

Sculptor Camme Staros creates handmade objects that juxtapose modernism with antiquity and craft. Joining traditional materials like clay and ceramics with modern details like neon and steel, Staros examines the “semiotic systems” that have been “created and reinforced throughout art history.”

 

Etel Adnan at Gallery Continua

 

‘Five Senses for One Death,’ 1969, photo courtesy of the artist

 

Lebanese-American poet, writer and painter Etel Adnan crafts abstract oil paintings and landscapes inspired by Japanese leporellos that extend into space “like free-hand drawings.” In 2014, Adnan’s work was also included in the Whitney Biennial.

 

Nam June Paik at Gagosian

 

‘Lion,’ 2005, photo courtesy of Gagosian

 

Probably the most exciting artist on this list (at least for us), Nam June Paik is credited with being the founder of video art. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Paik began his career as a musician as part of the Fluxus movement in 1960. After moving to New York in 1964, he began experimenting with film, combining his musical works with video sculptures constructed of wire and metal. Before his death in 2006, Paik was known as an early adopter of technology, including his famous robots built of out multiple computers. In fact, he’s also credited with using the term “electronic super highway” as early as 1974. Damn.

 

Alicja Kwade at i8 Gallery

 

‘Computer (Power Mac),’ 2017, photo courtesy of i8 Gallery

 

Polish artist Alicja Kwade works in sculpture, installation, photography and film. Throughout all of her work, however, she likes to play with value systems, transforming useless materials like wood or glass into high value pieces of art.

 

Jinshi Zhu at Pearl Lam

 

‘A Tiger Shaped Tally,’ 2016, photo courtesy of Pearl Lam Gallery

 

Painter Jinshi Zhu creates abstract oil paintings focused on texture, through endless layers of color and paint. Inspired by the German Expressionist movement and their unconventional techniques, Zhu often creates these layers using a spatula or shovel.

 

The Haas Brothers at R & Company

 

‘Socrata Floor Lamps and Furries’, photo courtesy of the artists

 

Twins Nikolai and Simon Haas have worked in pretty much every medium, from music and film to installation and visual art. Now focused mostly on their sculpture and installation work, The Haas Brothers highlight themes including sexuality, science fiction, psychedelia and politics.

Jeffrey Gibson at Roberts Projects

 

‘Power Power Power,’ 2017, photo courtesy of Roberts Projects

 

Artist Jeffrey Gibson relates his experience as a Native American growing up in a Western culture into large scale paintings and woven sculpture. Also inspired by dance and movement, from pow-wows to nightclubs and the work of Leigh Bowery, Gibson examines nostalgia, heritage and pre-colonized Native American life.

 

Oh, and if looking at all this great art makes you hungry, check out our guide to The Armory’s pop-up restaurants.

 

Daniel Heidkamp and Ryan Schneider: Two NYC Painters Have a Pow-wow

On September 20, Bendixen Contemporary Art in Copenhagen will play host to Daniel Heidkamp and Ryan Schneider, two New York painters whose names—and work—you should know. In advance of their collaborative outing (cheekily titled "Schneids and Heids"), they had a conversation about subjects, process, mistakes and abstraction.

Daniel Heidkamp: What inspired this new group of paintings?

Ryan Schneider: Mexico, islands, women, faces, hairstyles, the beach, the North Sea, foliage, the night, dusk, shapes, color, eyes, waves, curls, breasts, swimming, meditation, shadows, Kirchner, Picabia, Gauguin and Matisse. What about you?

DH: For me, inspiration always starts with something observed. My source material comes from ‘on-the-spot’ painting. I sit outside with my canvas on the ground and try to capture moments when the ordinary world appears entirely otherworldly. In this group of paintings, subjects range from lagoons, waterways and dunes along the Atlantic coast, to more urban settings—New York City rooftop gardens or a municipal fountain. I’m drawn to circumstances where the natural and the manmade intertwine—and where atmosphere and light effects best come alive through painting. I enjoy the ‘sporting’ aspect of observational painting. It’s like hunting: snooping around outdoors, painting in unforgiving environments with a strong likelihood of failure, but where there is always the possibility of capturing something great. Some of my small outdoor paintings are finished works, while other serve as seedlings for larger paintings in the studio.

RS: I don’t paint from direct observation. But in a way, my work is very observational. I am always looking—at people, objects, shadows, the sky, etc. I’m taking pictures with my mind. And when I’m actually standing in front of a canvas painting, those things start to appear. In a way, I am working like an abstract painter with this group of works, responding to what’s happening on the canvas and letting that dictate what I do next. This is a departure for me. With your work. you are constantly trying to see more of what’s there, more color, more forms, etc. I feel like these paintings of yours are very alive. For me, the challenge is knowing when to stop. I could keep going forever, but then you end up with something dead.

DH: When I get going on a larger painting I like to know a lot about what I’m up against. Experience tells me that false starts and f-bombs are inevitable, so I like all those painful parts to happen "off stage," or more specifically, in smaller preparatory paintings. By the time I begin working on a slightly larger painting, I want to understand as much as possible about the picture, or I like how you put it, "to see more of what’s there." Some of the prep paintings are good and make it into shows, while others end up unstretched in a pile on my floor. Either way is OK. It’s low stakes, non-precious and despite all the preparation, there are unpredictable and exciting things that happen because that’s just how it goes with oil painting. Knowing when to stop is about knowing what you’re trying to do. You stop when everything is painted. I think there is false concern about "overworking" the art. The trick is to work in a way that doesn’t muddy everything up. Bury the hard work in the woods or pile it into a box in your studio. I definitely see a relationship to abstraction in your work, but as far back as I can remember, you’ve never shown a purely abstract painting. Why, despite your intuitive process, do you insist on representational painting?

RS: My concern is always with "things." I’ve made abstract paintings before, when I was younger I did a lot, but my instincts tell me to paint faces, people, figures, objects. Once I’ve decided on a "thing" that turns me on, which is very intuitive, then the painting can actually happen. I can’t spend hours fretting over it. If I’m open, my first marks create the image itself. And I know, those hiccups in a painting can be devastating and ruin the whole picture. Oil painting lends itself to mistakes. That’s why it’s so interesting. Then sometimes it’s like I had an internal road map. My painting in our Copenhagen show, "North Sea Red," was like that. I went to the studio one night with no particular plans. And when I left 6 hours later, that painting was there. I had a very distinct feeling that it wanted to come into existence on its own.

DH: Talk about the women and waves in these paintings.

RS: These women are a symbol of power for me. They often reflect my state of being at a particular time. Nature finds its way into their bodies, faces, hair. This is reflective of my state of being lately. I’m not trying to fight everything anymore, I’m letting it in. That’s how it is with waves in the ocean. You have to go with them. If you fight them, you’ll lose. If I go at a painting from the beginning, hung up on results, muscling my way through it, I’m lost. In the ocean, you can’t have a plan. It has a plan for you. I try meditation, which is just breathing, sitting still and attempting to be present. When I paint that’s how I want to be: Present, ready for anything.

DH: Sometimes when painting outdoors or in the studio, I get in a ‘zone’ where time and space collapse a little bit. My hope is that this experience can also happen for people who look at my art. A lot of my work is about creating space—even if it’s just an imaginary space for the mind’s eye only. I’m interested in exploring a type of realism—not a photographic realism—but a realism of weight. If I paint a leaf or the surface of a swamp, I want to give a sense of how that looks and also how it feels, the temperature, and light.

RS: I’m excited about this show because I think it illuminates two approaches to some of the age-old issues of painting: representation, color, narrative and a relationship to abstraction. Sometimes we arrive in similar territory, but to me, the underlying vibrations are distinct. With this group of paintings hanging together it will be interesting to explore the harmonies between our work, as well as moments when things start clash.

"Schneids and Heids" opens on September 20 at Bendixen Contemporary Art.

 

Daniel Heidkamp,

Above: Daniel Heidkamp, "A More Open Array," 2013 (oil on linen, 25" x 18")

 

Ryan Schneider,

Above: Ryan Schneider, "Dip Your Toe in It," 2013 (oil on paper, 30" x 24")

 

Daniel Heidkamp,

Above: Daniel Heidkamp, "Night Garden," 2013 (oil on linen, 38" x 32")

 

Ryan Schneider,

Above: Ryan Schneider, "Eyes Be Closed I Be Open," 2013 (oil on canvas, 60" x 48")

 

Daniel Heidkamp,

Above: Daniel Heidkamp, "Lagoon – A Key," 2013 (oil on linen, 38" x 32") 

 

top image: Ryan Schneider, "I Am No Island," 2012 (oil on linen, 20" x 16")

 

George W. Bush Has More In Common With Hitler Every Day

Joe Hagan at New York has a lengthy piece up about what we can expect from Jeb Bush in the coming years, but some of the best stuff in it concerns the older brother who may have destroyed his chance for the presidency. W. remains all sorts of weird and denial-ridden: he’s sure that “history will vindicate him,” for starters. But—and I’m not one to fulfill Godwin’s law cavalierly—in many ways, he’s beginning to resemble Hitler.

At first it seems coincidental. The former president has become increasingly “agoraphobic” and contemptuous of the so-called “eastern elite.” Hitler was a paranoiac who died hiding in a bunker and railed against the well-educated bourgeoisie. W. takes the blame for a cratered economy, as did Hitler, if posthumously. There’s a further similarity, though, that’s positively glaring.      

Indeed, George W. Bush, now 66, has spent the past few years living as invisibly as possible, working diligently on his golf game at the Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas, showing up at a Rangers baseball game, or being spotted eating a steak in one of his favorite restaurants. While the rest of the world judges his years in office, he’s taken up painting, making portraits of dogs and arid Texas landscapes. “I find it stunning that he has the patience to sit and take instruction and paint,” says a former aide.

You know who else liked to paint dogs and landscapes? THAT’S RIGHT: HITLER. (Oh, did you watch the season premiere of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia too?) The Führer, it’s said, had a bit of trouble with the human form, so he tended to favor animals and lifeless mountains. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until Bush’s work goes up for auction before judging him equally talentless. I don’t begrudge him the hobby, though—as Hitler knew, you’ve got to pass the time somehow when you don’t drink. 

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Popular Painter Thomas Kinkade Dead at 54

Thomas Kinkade, the prolific "Painter of Light" whose pieces appear in approximately 1 in 20 American homes, died suddenly on Friday at his home in Los Gatos, California. He was 54.

In a statement, Kinkade’s family said that he appeared to have died of natural causes. More details, from The San Jose Mercury News:

"Thom provided a wonderful life for his family," his wife, Nanette, said in a statement. "We are shocked and saddened by his death."

His paintings are hanging in an estimated one of every 20 homes in the United States. Fans cite the warm, familiar feeling of his mass-produced works of art, while it has become fashionable for art critics to dismiss his pieces as tacky. In any event, his prints of idyllic cottages and bucolic garden gates helped establish a brand — famed for their painted highlights — not commonly seen in the art world.

"I’m a warrior for light," Kinkade told the Mercury News in 2002, alluding not just to his technical skill at creating light on canvas but to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine. "With whatever talent and resources I have, I’m trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel."

Kinkade is survived by his wife, Nanette, and four daughters.

May he rest in peace.

Bill Murray Gets 50 Portraits

With Get Low already skedaddling out of the theaters and Passion Play getting such bad reviews at Toronto that one wonders if it’ll be properly released at all, it may be some time before we get another Bill Murray fix on the big screen. His only other forthcoming credit on imdb is for Ghostbusters 3, which may or may not—depending on who you believe—be coming to a theater near you in 2012. In the meantime, if you need a little tide-me-over, LA’s R&R Gallery opened a show last weekend entirely devoted to the beloved comedian. “Mr. Bill Murray: A Tribute to the Legend” consists of 50 original portraits representing all manner of Murrays at all stages of his career. Highlights after the jump.

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Mr. Bill Murray: A Tribute to the Legend is curated by CW Milberger and Mark J. Yamamoto and runs through September 30th.