Contemporary Art and theRenegotiation of Modernism American and British Shock Art Appropriation Art
The Culture Wars• The 1990s saw an increase in conservative policies enacted against the arts.• This was initiated, in part, as a response to the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe.• In America, the late Senator Jesse Helms (North Carolina), a conservative, was a leading voice in the 1990s campaign to censure the arts through threats of relinquishing Demonstration over the cancellation of funding. Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery, June 30, 1989.
The Culture WarsRobert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989)•Mapplethorpe was very wellknown for his highly stylized back-and-white photographs of friendsand members of the gaycommunity.•His images are erotic and take assubject sex and the human form.•He often photographed the S&Mlifestyle of many of his homosexualfriends and lovers, but it is not the Robert Mapplethorpe, Self-Portrait withonly subject he photographed. Whip, 1978. Signed, dated and inscribed To Holly & Horace in colored pencil (in the margin)14” x 14”.Gelatin silver print, Private Collection.
Robert Mapplethorpre, Marty and Veronica, 1982. Gelatin silver print, 15¼” x 15¼”. Private Collection. • His images were considered controversial because they featured subjects many believed should remain private, condemned because they were alternatives to the heterosexual lifestyle, featured inter-racial couples, or challenge the dominant hegemony.Robert Mapplethorpe, Elliot and Dominick, 1979. Gelatin silver print, 13” x13”. The Estate of Robert Mapplethorpe.
The Culture Wars• Mapplethorpe’s images however are heavily informed by the tradition of the human form.• His photographs show a clear influence of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. The Three Graces, Roman, Imperial Period, 2nd Robert Mapplethorpe, Ken, Lydia and century AD. Copy of Greek original from 2nd Tyler, 1985. Printed 2004. Gelatin century BC. Marble, 48-7/16” x 39-3/8”. silver print, 16” x 20”. Robert Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. Mapplethorpe Foundation, NY.
• As the Tate Museum in London points out, this image of Elliot and Dominick DOES have iconographic precedent. • Catholic imagery features the martyrdom of St. Peter who was crucified upside-down as a celebrated subject of religious imagery. • Mapplethorpe wasGuido Reni, Crucifixion of St. raised Catholic and Robert Mapplethorpe, Elliot and Peter, 16-4-1605. Oil on referenced this Dominick, 1979. Gelatin silver wood, 120” x 67”. Vatican print, 13” x13”. The Estate of Museum, Italy. background in his work. Robert Mapplethorpe.
• As Richard Meyer noted in 1991, his image of Brian Ridley and Lyle Heeter mimics the typical marriage portrait of a heterosexual couple with the dominant one standing behind a seated, read more submissive, partner. Cecil Beaton, Queen Elizabeth IIs Robert Mapplethorpe, Brian Ridley Coronation, 1953. Copyright Cecil and Lyle Heeter, 1979. Gelatin silver Beaton/Camera Press/Globe Photos, print, 13” x 13”. The Tate, London. Inc.
The Culture WarsAndres Serrano (b. 1950)•Roughly the same timeMapplethorpe’s images were beingshown and discussed, Andres Serrano’sown controversial photograph of acrucifix resting in urine led to theartist’s scourge by the Catholic church.•Interestingly, I myself saw this ondisplay at the Cathedral of St. John theDivine in Harlem in 2001. Andres Serrano, Piss Christ, 1987. Cibachrome, silicone, Plexiglas, wood frame, 65” x 45 ⅛” x ¾”. Edition of four.
The Culture Wars• New York Senator Alfonse d’Amato had this to say: “…that this is what contemporary art has sunk to, this level, this outrage, this indignity-some may want to sanction that, and that is fine. But not with the use of taxpayers’ money. This is not a question of free speech. This us a question of abuse of taxpayers’ money.” -Senator Alfonse d’Amato Andres Serrano, Piss Christ, 1987. Cibachrome, silicone, Plexiglas, wood frame, 65” x 45 ⅛” x ¾”. Edition of four.
The Culture WarsAndres Serrano (b. 1950)•Again, there is precedent for theartist.•The artist was commenting on thechurch, especially the Catholic Churchand its emphasis and fascination withhuman bodily fluids.•In defense of the piece he pointed outCatholics drink the blood of Christtransubstantiated in the ritual of mass-his work just focused on a different Andres Serrano, Piss Christ, 1987.fluid-urine. Cibachrome, silicone, Plexiglas, wood frame, 65” x 45 ⅛” x ¾”. Edition of four.
Andres Serrano (b. 1950)•It took the artist some 20years to realize he shouldwork with human waste.•He continues to do so to thisday.•His “What a Shit Show”opened in NY’s Yvon LambertGallery in 2008.•Images from the show canstill be seen on display in Installation view of Andres Serrano, “Shitvarious galleries. Show,” 2008. Cibachrome photographs, each roughly 8 ft. high. Yvon Lambert Gallery, NY.
Andres Serrano (b. 1950)•Working with human wasteand bodily fluids is not new andSerrano was not the only artistto be censured for it. Andres Serrano, Self-Portrait (Shit), 2008. Cibachrome photograph, roughly 8 ft. high. Yvon Lambert Gallery, NY.
• Prior to Serrano, Piero Manzoni bottled his feces and sold it by weight.(Left) Piero Manzoni, Merda d’artista, c. 1961. The artist pictured holding one of his cans of shit“made” 1961. (Right) One of the cans of shit produced by the artist. Each can weighs 30 grams with priced being determined by weight of contents and the current value of gold. The cans were numbered from 1-90. This one may be “#2.”
The Culture WarsChris Ofili (b.1968)•Another artist whose work came underattack in the 1990s was Nigerian/Britishartist, Chris Ofili.•The exhibition of Ofili’s painting, TheHoly Virign in the “Sensation Exhibition”earned the artist a notorious reputation. Chris Ofili, The Holy Virgin, 1996. Paper collage, oil paint, glitter, polyester resin, map pins, elephant dung on linen, 96” x 72”. Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
The Culture Wars• The “Sensation Exhibition” was a show organized by the Royal Academy of Art in London and featured the collection of Charles Saatchi.• The show featured the work of some of England’s best known and controversial artists, those associated with the Young British Association or YBAs , including Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Marcus Harvey.• As is evident from the cover art for the exhibition catalogue, the show was racy, its organizers anticipated to some extent the reaction it received. Cover for catalogue to The Sensation Exhibition.
The Culture WarsChris Ofili (b.1968)•The image of the Virgin Mary wascreated using various materials, includingelephant dung.•She is surrounded by clippings from girliemagazines of breasts and buttocks meatto reinterpret the putti that usuallysurround images of the Virgin.•Certain characteristics of the form areexaggerated including the rear-end, lips, Chris Ofili, The Holy Virgin, 1996.and nose. Paper collage, oil paint, glitter, polyester resin, map pins, elephant dung on linen, 96” x 72”. Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
The Culture WarsChris Ofili (b.1968)•In the artist’s explanation of thepiece he cites his use of dung ismade to reconcile his Catholiceducation with his Nigerianbackground.•His images make reference toracial stereotypes, Blaxploitationmovies, and the lifestyle of gangstarap. Chris Ofili, The Holy Virgin, 1996. Paper collage, oil paint, glitter, polyester resin, map pins, elephant dung on linen, 96” x 72”. Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
The Culture Wars• The inclusion of Ofili’s work in “The Sensation Exhibition,” which came to the United States via the Brooklyn Museum of Art caused outrage amongst Catholics and triggered this response from then Mayour Guiliani: “There’s nothing in the First Amendment that supports horrible and disgusting projects!” -Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, 1999 Chris Ofili, The Holy Virgin, 1996. Paper collage, oil paint, glitter, polyester resin, map pins, elephant dung on linen, 96” x 72”. Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
The Culture Wars• Giuliani attempted to use his power as Mayor to shut the show down by threatening the terms of the Brooklyn Museum’s lease and any future funding.• The threat went all the way to court with Giuliani arguing Ofili’s work along with that of Hirst, and Harvey were offensive.• Giuliani did lose his case and The Chris Ofili, The Holy Virgin, 1996. Brooklyn Museum benefitted from Paper collage, oil paint, glitter, the controversial show. polyester resin, map pins, elephant dung on linen, 96” x 72”. Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
The Culture WarsDamien Hirst (b. 1965)•A leading member of the YBAs,Hirst’s work was also part of the“Sensation Exhibition” andsolicited similar response.•Hirst is known for suspendinganimals in formaldehyde andputting them on display muchlike one would see in a NaturalHistory Museum. Damien Hirst, "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" 1991. (Refursrbishd in 2006). Tiger shark, glass, steel, 5% formaldehyde solution, 83 ⅞” x 204” x 83 ⅞”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
The Culture WarsDamien Hirst (b. 1965)•To realize this piece the artistcommissioned a fisherman tocatch a Tiger shark.•He then embalmed the sharkand placed it in a veryMinimalist-inspired container fordisplay.•The work raises questions ofauthorship, the definition of art, Damien Hirst, "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living"and mortality. 1991. (Refursrbishd in 2006). Tiger shark, glass, steel, 5% formaldehyde solution, 83 ⅞” x 204” x 83 ⅞”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
Appropriation ArtJeff Koons (b. 1955)•The 1990s also saw anabundance of kitsch andappropriation art.•Kitsch is best exemplified inthe work of artist Jeff Koons.•Koons appropriates imagesand objects from the everydayand transforms them into art.•Puppy, was first exhibited atDocumenta in1992. Jeff Koons, Puppy, 1992. 70,000 fresh flowers, 43’ tall. Kassel, Germany.
Appropriation ArtJeff Koons (b. 1955)•Puppy was first realized in Germany.•The artist has since recreated the workfor display in New York, Bilbao, andConnecticut (for model StephanieSeymour and her husband).•Like Marcel Duchamp before him, Koonsappropriates objects and recasts theirfunction to be aesthetic. Jeff Koons, Puppy, 1992. 70,000 fresh flowers, 43’ tall. Kassel, Germany.
Jeff Koons, Puppy, 2000. Rockefeller Jeff Koons, Puppy, 1997. Center, NYC. Guggenheim Museum, Bilboa.
Duchamp, Box in a Valise, From or by Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy),conceived 1919. Leather valise containing miniature replicas, photographs, colorreproductions of works by Duchamp, and Piero Manzoni, Artist’s Breath, 1960. one "original" drawing Large Glass, Balloon, wood and lead seals, 1.4” x collotype on celluloid, 7 1/2 x 9 1/2”. 7/1” x 7.23”.
Appropriation ArtJeff Koons (b. 1955)•Koons’ work as an appropriationartist is exemplified in works like hisHoover cleaners.•Koons makes use of the Minimalistaesthetic and marries it to consumergoods much like Pop art.•The work brings together high artand low art, popular culture with theaesthetic of the fine arts. Jeff Koons, New Hoover Convertibles, Green, Blue; Double-Decker, c. 1980s. Hoover vacuum cleaners, acrylic glass, and fluorescent lighting, 116” x 41” x 28”. Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.
Appropriation ArtJeff Koons (b. 1955)•Much like Andy Warhol, Koonscarefully selects the objects that willbecome his sculptures and has a teamto realize his vision.•Most often, the artist has permissionto translate the object into his visionbut has been met with copyrightinfringement. Jeff Koons, Rabbit 1986. Steel, 41” x 19” x 12”. The Broad Contemporary Art Museum, Los Angeles.
Jeff Koons (b. 1955)•The work that becameproblematic was his String ofPuppies from 1998.•Koons designed this sculpturebased on an image published in a Art Rogers, Puppies, 1980. Photograph.newspaper featuring a coupleholding a litter of puppies.•The original photographer, ArtRogers, had taken the photographand then sold it to greeting cardcompanies.•Rogers took Koons to court andwon for copyright infringement. Jeff Koons, String of Puppies, 1998. Wood painted sculpture, 42” x 62” x 37”. Edition of 3.
• Like others, Koons also quotes from well-known paintings in art history. • His Manet is a contemporary interpretation of the modern master’s work. Édouard Manet, Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass),1863, oil on canvas; 6’9 1/8” x 8’ 10 Jeff Koons, Manet, 1991. Oil on canvas, 60” x ¼”. Musée dOrsay, Paris. 90”. Collection unknown.
Giorgione (and/or Titian), The Pastoral Symphony(Fête Champêtre),; c. 1510, Oil on canvas, approx. 3 7" x 4 6". Musée du Louvre, Paris. Marcantonio Raimondi, The Judgment ofÉdouard Manet, Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on Paris, c. 1510-18. Engraving based onthe Grass), 1863, oil on canvas; 6’9 1/8” x 8’ 10 ¼”. Raphael cartoon, 11 ½” x 17 3/16”. Musée dOrsay, Paris. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Appropriation ArtYasumasa Morimura (b. 1951)•Artist Morimura takes art historyand its role in casting racial andgender stereotypes as subject.•His art subverts race and genderthrough the appropriation oficonic works of art.•By placing himself as theprotagonist of famous works of arthe makes known his intentions arecritical. Yasumasa Morimura, Portrait (Futago), 1988-90. Color photograph, 6’ 10 11/16” x 9’ 10 1/8”. Luhring Augustine.
• Like Manet, Morimura’s work investigates the concept of modernity as defined by the dominant paradigm. • It is an exploration of race, class, modernity, and “otherness.” Édouard Manet,, Olympia, Yasumasa Morimua, Portrait (Futago),1863-65, oil on canvas, 51 ⅜“ x 74 1988-90. Color photograph, 6’ 10 11/16” x 9’ 10 ¾”. Musée dOrsay, Paris. 1/8 ”. Luhring Augustine.
Yasumasa Morimura, To My Little Sister: For Cindy Sherman 1998. Ilfachrome mounted on aluminum, 55” x 31”. Private Collection, Tokyo. • Morimura appropriates the work of artists ranging from the Renaissance masters to Manet, and Frida Khalo to Cindy Sherman. • His work investigates and criticizes Western notions of “the other”.Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #96, 1981. Photograph, 24” x 18”. Metro Pictures.
Contemporary ArtKara Walker (b. 1969)•Like Morimura, Kara Walkeralso explores the history ofrace relations and stereotypesin her appropriation of theantebellum south.•Walker uses stories ofplantation living to recreatefictional, yet typicalhappenings for slaves livingduring this time. Kara Walker, Insurrection! (Our Tools Were Rudimentary, Yet We Pressed On), (detail of installation view), 2000. Cut paper projection, dimensions dependent on location. Guggenheim Museum.
Contemporary ArtKara Walker (b. 1969)•Her work is amusing but biting.•The imagery and process recallthe silhouette profiles of theVictorian era.•The stories borrow fromRomance novels that distort thephysical and sexual abuse ofplantation slaves-men andwomen.•Walker challenges the iconic Kara Walker, Gone, An Historical Romance ofimage of the happy or ignorant Civil War As it Occurred Between the Duskyslaves in her images. Thighs of Young Negress and Her Heart, 2000. Cut paper projection, dimensions dependent on location. Museum of Modern Art, NY
Contemporary ArtKara Walker (b. 1969)•Her imagery makes use of theexaggerated physical traits ofAfrican slaves immortalized inpopular culture and memorabilia.•Her work is raw and truthful, itmakes no excuses or apologies forthe past.•She investigates the dark side of Kara Walker, detail fromthe nation’s history that many often Hysterical! Savagery! Passions! , 2006. Gouache,candy-coat, romanticize, or ignore. paper collage on wood panels, various dimensions. Exhibited at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Spring 2006.
Contemporary ArtJeff Wall (b. 1946)•Like Morimura and Walker,Wall explores theintellectual side of art andits history.•Through appropriation,Wall studies art’sinvolvement andinvestment with art.•By referencing earlierexamples, Walldemonstrates the elitenature of art and its legacy. Jeff Wall, A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai), 1993. Transparency in light box, 7’6 7/8” x 12’ 4 5/16”. Marian Goodman Gallery.
Hokusai, Ejira in Suruga Province, from Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji, c. 1831. Polychrome woodblock print, 9 5/8” x 14 7/8”. Honolulu Academy of Arts. • His A Sudden Gust of Wind is a modernized adaptation of Japanese artist Hokusai’s Ejira in Suruga Province, from Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji. Jeff Wall, A Sudden Gust of Wind (afterHokusai), 1993. Transparency in light box, 7’6 7/8” x 12’ 4 5/16”. Marian Goodman Gallery.
Contemporary ArtJeff Wall (b. 1946)•Wall uses light boxes torealize his images andcontinues the long tradition ofartists from the West lookingto and finding inspiration inthe art of the East.•Wall is interested in theartfulness in art anddemonstrates his skill inconveying narrative to theviewer.•His inspiration comes fromthe transition of historypainting to include the banality Jeff Wall, A Sudden Gust of Wind (afterof the everyday. Hokusai), 1993. Transparency in light box, 7’6 7/8” x 12’ 4 5/16”. Marian Goodman Gallery.
Contemporary ArtVitaly Komar and Aleksandr Melamid (1972-2003)• Komar and Melamid also investigate the canon of art.• The team of Vitaly Komar and Aleksandr Melamid worked together from 1972-2003 surveying various countries and making images to reflect the preferred subject and style of its inhabitants. Vitaly Komar and Aleksandr Melamid, USA’s Most Wanted (Dishwasher Series), 1994. Oil and acrylic on canvas, dishwasher size.
Contemporary ArtVitaly Komar and Aleksandr Melamid (1972-2003)• Their investigation found that most countries still desire representational art.• The people surveyed preferred landscapes with historical subjects or figures.• Abstract art was for the most part least desired with the exception of Holland and Vitaly Komar and Aleksandr Melamid, Italy. Denmark’s Most Wanted (Dishwasher Series), 1994. Oil and acrylic on canvas, refrigerator door size.
Contemporary ArtVitaly Komar and Aleksandr Melamid(1972-2003)•Their investigation reveals how the layperson feels about art-what they value andconsider to be aesthetically pleasing.•Interestingly, it is in sharp contrast toGreenberg’s formalism.•Through their invocation of history theydemonstrate frankly, not much haschanged.•They also demonstrate the importance ofvisual culture and its role in establishingand maintaining national identity. Vitaly Komar and Aleksandr Melamid, Holland’s Most Wanted (Dishwasher Series), 1994. Oil and acrylic on canvas, magazine size.