Saturday 11 June 2011

Robert Indiana - part 1

This is the first of a two-part post on the works of American artist Robert Indiana. This first part takes a look at his most famous iconographic piece - LOVE. The second part will have many more examples of Indiana's other works.
Robert Indiana was born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana. He moved to New York in 1954 and joined the pop art movement, using distinctive imagery drawing on commercial art approaches blended with existentialism, that gradually moved toward what Indiana calls "sculptural poems".

In 1962 the Stable Gallery in New York hosted Robert Indiana's first solo exhibition. He has since enjoyed solo exhibitions at over 30 museums and galleries worldwide. His works are in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam, The Netherlands; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; Detroit Institute of Art, Michigan; Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; Brandeis Museum, Waltham, Massachusetts; Albright-Knox Gallery of Art, Buffalo, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C.; Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and the Los Angeles County Museum, California, among others.

Indiana's work often consists of bold, simple, iconic images, especially numbers and short words like EAT and HUG. His best known image is the word LOVE in upper-case letters, arranged in a square with a tilted letter O. The iconography first appeared in a series of poems originally written in 1958, in which he stacked LO and VE on top of one another.

 The first serigraph/silk screen of "Love" was printed as part of an exhibition poster for Stable Gallery in 1966. A few examples of the rare image, in bold blue and green with a red bottom announcing "Stable May 66" are known to exist. Twentyfive of these, without the red announcement, were signed and dated on the reverse by Indiana.

1966 Stable Gallery poster

In 1973 it was featured on an eight-cent United States Postal Service postage stamp, the first of their regular series of "love stamps." The 330-million United States postal stamps issued in the 1970s are one of the more popular examples of the mass reproduction and appropriation of this image

1973 Postage Stamp

In 1995, Indiana created a 'Heliotherapy Love' series of 300 silk screen prints signed and numbered by the artist, which surrounds the iconic love image in a bright yellow border. These prints are the largest official printed version of the Love image.

1995 Heliotherapy LOVE 

In 2008 Indiana created an image similar to his iconic LOVE but this time showcasing the word "HOPE," and donated all proceeds from the sale of reproductions of his image to Democrat Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, raising in excess of $1,000,000. A stainless steel sculpture of HOPE was unveiled outside Denver's Pepsi Center during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The Obama campaign sold T-shirts, pins, bumper stickers, posters, pins and other items adorned with HOPE. Editions of the sculpture have been released and sold internationally and the artist himself has called HOPE "Love's close relative".

2008 HOPE

For Valentine's Day 2011 Indiana created a similar variation on LOVE for Google, which was displayed in place of the search engine site's normal logo.

2011 Google logo

Here are some other versions of LOVE made over the years:

1972 Great American LOVE

1973 Golden LOVE 

1975 The American LOVE 
enamel on metal

1996 The Book of LOVE 6 

Thursday 9 June 2011

John Currin - painter

John Currin was born in Boulder, Colorado in 1962, and obtained a B.F.A. in 1984 from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, followed by an M.F.A. from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

He is best known for satirical figurative paintings that deal with provocative sexual and social themes in a technically skillful manner. His work shows a wide range of influences, including sources as diverse as the Renaissance, popular culture magazines, and contemporary fashion models He often distorts or exaggerates the erotic forms of the female body.

In New York City in 1989 he exhibited a series of portraits of young girls derived from the photographs in a high school yearbook, and initiated his efforts to distil art from traditionally clichéd subjects. In the 1990s, when political themed art works were favoured, Currin used bold depictions of busty young women, mustachioed men and asexual divorcés. He used magazines like Cosmopolitan along with old issues of Playboy for inspiration for his paintings.

In 1992 a subsequent exhibition focused, less sympathetically, on well-to-do middle-aged women. Nonetheless, by the late 1990s Currin's ability to paint subjects of kitsch with technical facility met with critical and financial success, and by 2003 his paintings were selling "for prices in the high six figures". More recently, he has undertaken a series of figure paintings dealing with unabashedly pornographic themes.

Currin has exhibited widely internationally. John Currin: Works on Paper was presented by Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa, in 2003 and toured to Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, and Milwaukee Art Museum, Minnesota. Also in 2003, MoCA Chicago initiated a mid-career survey of his paintings which toured to the Serpentine Gallery, London, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. His work has also been included as part of What is Painting? - Contemporary Art from the Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2007 and Painting Now! - Back to Figuration, Kunsthal Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2007. A major monograph on John Currin was published by Rizzoli International in 2006.
Currin is based in New York City, where he lives with his wife and fellow artist, Rachel Feinstein.

1992 Skinny Woman

1993 Ms. Omni

1993 Standing Nude

1997 Heartless

1997 The Bra Shop

1999 Buffet

1999 The Pink Tree

2000 Stamford After-Brunch

2001 Nude on a Table

2002 Fishermen

2002 Rachel in Fur

2003 Thanksgiving

2005 Francis

2006 Kissers

2009 Constance Towers

2009 Mademoiselle

2010 Big Hands

2010 Hot Pants

Bent Lady

Tuesday 7 June 2011

David Salle - Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part post on the works of American painter David Salle. For biographical notes and more images, see Part 1.

1997-98 Bigger Rack

1998 Angels in the Rain

1998 Mr. Lucky

2001-02 Sweetness

2004 Fortitude

2004 Snow White

2005 Blue Flowers

2005 Untitled (Torso with Rose)

2005-06 After Michaelangelo, The Creation

2007 Distance From

2007 Equilibrist #2

2007 Face in the Trees

2007 Frank Comes out of the Doorway

2007 Full Swing

2007 Girl Reading

2009 Poets in their Youth

2010 I've Got it All up Here

2010 The Mennonite Button Problem

2010 Untitled

Sunday 5 June 2011

David Salle - part 1

This part 1 of a two-part post on the works of American painter David Salle. David Salle is one of the most significant American artists to have emerged in the early 1980s. His unique style of painting was influential in the international revival of large-scale, figurative painting that characterized much of the artistic production of this decade.

Salle was born in 1952 in Norman, Oklahoma. In 1970 he went to the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, where he worked with John Baldessari. Creating abstract paintings, installations, and video and conceptual pieces, Salle earned a B.F.A. in 1973 and an M.F.A. in 1975, both from CalArts.
Salle moved to New York, where he supported himself by cooking in restaurants, working for artists and teaching art classes. He also did paste-up in the art department of a soft-core pornography magazine. When the publisher folded, Salle saved a group of stock photographs depicting nudes, sporting events, aeroplane crashes and the like, which he later used as source material for his paintings. An exhibition of Salle's works on large rolls of paper was shown at Artists Space in New York in 1976. Around this time, he began experimenting with relief prints on unprimed canvas. He also made charcoal drawings on canvas of nude women in erotic poses and of objects such as telephones and airplanes.

Salle has mentioned the influence of filmmakers Douglas Sirk, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Preston Sturges. Cinematic devices – from close-ups and zooms to panning, montage, and splicing – have indeed been recognised in his work. In the late 1970s he travelled to Europe, where he made an effort to see as much work as possible by his German Neo-Expressionist contemporaries. Fellow painter Ross Bleckner introduced Salle to art dealer Mary Boone, who first exhibited his work in 1981. Salle soon gained prominence as a leader in the return to figurative painting of the 1980s. In 1983, he began working on very large canvases, some of which include art-historical references. His first solo museum exhibition was presented at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam in 1983.
Salle's work for the stage began in 1981, when he was asked to design the set and costumes for Birth of the Poet, a play by Kathy Acker under the direction of Richard Foreman. He has designed sets and costumes for numerous works by Karole Armitage—an avant-garde choreographer and dancer with whom he lived for seven years—beginning with their 1985 collaboration on The Mollino Room, performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov and American Ballet Theatre.

He has continued to paint alongside his work for the stage, creating such series as the Tapestry Paintings (1989–91), Ballet Paintings (1992-93), and Early Product Paintings (1993). In the 1990s, he added sculpture to his oeuvre and began exhibiting his black-and-white photographs, many of which were made in preparation for canvases. He also directed the commercial film Search and Destroy (1995), which was produced by Martin Scorsese and features Ethan Hawke, Dennis Hopper, and Christopher Walken.

Solo shows of Salle's art have been organized by the Museum am Ostwall Dortmund (1986–87), Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (1986–88), and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1999), among others. He has participated in major international expositions including Documenta (1982), Venice Biennale (1982 and 1993), Whitney Biennial (1983, 1985, and 1991), Paris Biennale (1985), and Carnegie International (1985).

1980 Untitled

1980 We'll Shake the Bag

1983 Tennyson

1983 B.A.M.F.V.

1983 King Kong

1984 The Miller's Tale

1985 Muscular Paper

1985 Reliance

1986 Colony

1988 Maid in Germany

1989-90 Canfield Hatfield 7

1989-90 Canfield Hatfield 9

1989-90 Canfiled Hatfield 5

1990 Mingus in Mexico

1990-91 Dean Martin in 'Some Came Running'

1993 Big Umbrella

1993 Picture Builder

1995 Old Bottles

1995 Shooting

1996 Homage to Richard

* See part 2 for more works by David Salle