15 February 2019RICHARD PRINCE joke seriesHi MLE, How the written word can be used to convey a message, not only literally, but also visually, as always been a bit of an obsession for me. Religious calligraphy, dada poetry, even people’s handwriting… So, when Richard Prince’s “Early Joke Paintings” came to London, at the Skarstedt Gallery, I had to check it out.Spanning the period from 1988 - 1992, the format for each joke it always the same. Each joke is isolated on a large canvas, painted in plain block letters against a field of colour.On a canvas in a gallery, they seem strangely out of context. The jokes get repeated, reframed. They go from funny to not funny to annoying.As Time Out's Eddy Frankel said, "Maybe the joke’s on us. And if it is, then it’s absolutely hilarious."I noticed that one of these paintings sold recently for $2.5 USD. If I had the cash, I would definitely invest.Have a nice weekend!Suzan
8 February 2019
MLE,Saw one of the best exhibitions in awhile when I was at the ICA in LA and wanted to share with you, as I know you would appreciate it too: “B. Wurtz: This Has No Name.”This Has No Name is the first major US museum survey of this American artist. Now aged 70, it is only relatively recently that he has received praise as an un-recognized master.Above are three of my favourite pieces from this exhibition. I love the way they make me interpret these otherwise bland and ordinary materials:Top image: I couldn't look at this without trying to lock the lock in my head.Middle image: I couldn't look at this without trying to see what piece belonged to what bag at the bottom.Bottom image: I couldn't look at this without trying to see how the plastic bucket below was photographed to look like a some sort of building.And I couldn't agree with B. Wurtz more:"Human life—without humor or play or whimsy—would be intolerable.”Suzan B Wurtz @ ICA LA
4 January 2018
Hello MLE,First post of 2018!I was sharing Laurie Anderson’s O Superman song with one of our designers yesterday, and thought I’d look up what this song means, as it is so intriguing.When this song was written, Laurie Anderson was a performance artist, not a musician, and this song was created for one of her art pieces.It was influenced by a 19th-century aria by Massenet that began: "Ô Souverain, ô juge, ô père" (O Sovereign, O Judge, O Father). It was a prayer to authority, which Anderson thought was interesting, and so she wrote the beginning of the song: "O Superman / O Judge / O Mom and Dad.”The lyrics are a one-sided conversation, like a prayer to God. It sounds sinister – but it is sinister when you start talking to power. Sinister is juxtaposed with mundane imagery: “Hold me Mom in your long arms, your petrochemical arms, your military arms.” Americans had always been told that America was the motherland, to appeal to their love of mom and dad, but it’s really not like that.The song consists of only two chords,A♭ major and C minor, as well as the repeating "Ha" syllable done on a vocoder. I had to look up what that is, and learned that it is a bit like auto tune… An early 1970s vocoder, custom built for electronic music band Kraftwerk is seen above, which was probably not too different from Anderson’s vocoder. This was very high tech for 1981.Though never a hit in the USA, this song was #2 on the UK Singles Charts in 1981, after it was championed by DJ John Peel. This lead to a record deal with Warner Brothers.Anderson’s artist friends said she was selling out, but just months later the term being used was “crossing over,” and Anderson became a visionary.Says Anderson, “I had just brought the song back to my live set when 9/11 happened. People said: ‘I can’t believe it. You’re singing about current events.’ I said: ‘It’s not so strange. We’re in the same war and our planes are still crashing.’”Suzan
15 December 2017
Hi MLE,Finally went to see the Basquiat show at the Barbican, which is said to be “the first large-scale exhibition in the UK” of his work. I have to admit, though I’ve always found Basquiat himself very cute, I’ve never found his paintings very interesting.
Well, I was proven completely wrong - when you see them in reality, and give them a chance, his paintings are, of course, amazing. I usually have the patience to be at an exhibition for maybe an hour and a half - but I was there for well over two hours and could have stayed longer.I loved watching the film, “Downtown 81” featuring Basquiat and loosely based on his life. I loved all the polaroids, sketches and stories of all the 1980s New York art scene hipsters. It was really great to get so much context for his work.
Of course Banksy had to make an appearance, creating some new work outside the Barbican (see last image above). Says Banksy, “Major new Basquiat show opens at the Barbican - a place that is normally very keen to clean any graffiti from its walls.”So now the Barbican is celebrating Basquiat, who started as a graffiti artist etc, and they have some Banksy graffiti on their walls making fun of the fact that they are doing this… The Barbican sort of wants to remove the Banksy graffiti that is poking fun of them, but doing so would make them look bad (who would paint over a Banksy!?)Have a nice weekend!Suzan xx
10 November 2017
Hey the MLE,
Was walking through one of the world's top graffiti spots, Shoreditch, and thought I'd take some photos for you. There's always something different, the walls seems to be changing by the second. Of course the medium goes beyond spray paint to silk screens, sculptures, stencils on wallpaper, framed photographs, etc etc etc.
Have a nice weekend!