Archive for March, 2009
As the content level of the vinyl toy market bottoms out alongside the dying economy, artist CAMILLE ROSE GARCIA has taken matters into her own hands by forming her own indy label PITCO TOYS and launching two new handmade plush dolls in the form of SQUID and PEPPERMINT MAN. Available in numbered editions of 125 each, the plushies will set you back a hefty $600 and $400 each respectively, but for Camille diehards, these are a $1,000 ticket to goth heaven. Order yours now at JONATHAN LEVINE GALLERY...
Imagine a Wynton Marsalis quartet playing in Wembley, or the Stade de France, or Giants Stadium in New Jersey—with a lot of Gothic dry-ice effects, fireworks, industrial-scale amps, 40-foot speakers and in front of 50,000 screaming people holding up cell phones and cigarette lighters. The art form—jazz, in this case—would seem out of place, overwhelmed and maybe even damaged in such a loud, bloated and garish environment. That's what's happened to contemporary art. What used to be the equivalent of a trumpeter, pianist, bassist and drummer playing in a cozy club before an audience who really dug what they were hearing has become a grotesque imitation of heavy metal for the masses.
Although the phenomenon peaked in the current century, its roots go back to the heyday of Andy Warhol and pop art, when artists didn't have to be glowering romantics or suffering loners anymore in order to be avant garde. Glib hipness would do the trick. A generation later, when Julian Schnabel and David Salle were making painting profitable on a grand scale, and Damien Hirst was an art student dreaming of pickled sharks, being a contemporary artist was no more unorthodox a career choice than, say, screenwriting. It didn't hurt that an army of academics wrote professorial advertising copy, in the form of catalog essays and art-magazine reviews. The theorists said, in impressively convoluted terms, that these commercial works of art were as risky and subversive as anything van Gogh, Picasso or Duchamp had ever made.
It worked. Gallery districts flourished, collectors were lionized like Medici princes, art magazines got as thick and slick as Vogue and museums attracted customers by the horde. The Tate Modern in London entertained 5.2 million visitors in 2007. The problem is the hollowness at the core of that statistic. Serious contemporary art's authentic audience doesn't number in the millions-per-year-per-museum. The huge crowds are coming not to hear Wynton Marsalis, so to speak; they're coming for the spooky stage smoke, the fireworks and the thrill of being part of the throng. A long time ago, museum research surveillance revealed that the average time a viewer spent looking at a given work of art was 2.3 seconds. That's a geologic age compared with the blink-and-a-nod anything gets now. Click HERE to continue reading...
Love it or hate it the iconic (and iconoclastic) streetwear brand SUPREME is consistently one of the most innovative and on-point brands on the planet. Its reclusive founder, Supertouch buddy JAMES JEBBIA is the driving force behind this underground powerhouse and an extended interview with the NYC resident in this month's issue of newly-relaunched (and much improved) INTERVIEW MAGAZINE provides the most revealing look to date at the man behind the machine:
JAMES JEBBIA IS SUPREME
By Glenn O'Brien, Interview Magazine
Supreme is a different sort of fashion company. Some people would call Supreme street fashion, some would call it skater fashion, but really it’s beyond classification. They make clothes and accessories, but they also make skateboards, and the skateboards are collected like art. In fact, they’ve put out skateboard decks by artists such as Larry Clark, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Christopher Wool, Nate Lowman, and most recently, Damien Hirst. Their shoes and other products are collected as fanatically as art. Sometimes when a new item comes in, customers line up on the sidewalk for 24 hours, sleeping on the street to be among the lucky few who are able to buy it—there’s a big secondary market for Supreme stuff, in part because it is produced in only very small quantities, but also because Supreme has just two shops in the U.S. (one in New York and one in L.A.), five in Japan, and they sell to a very limited number of other stores, like Hide Out in London and Colette in Paris.
Supreme’s founder James Jebbia was in on the first wave of skater fashion, partnering with Sean Stüssy. When Stüssy left the business, Jebbia opened up Supreme in 1994 in a small storefront on Lafayette Street in downtown New York. Fifteen years later, Supreme is at the pinnacle of populist youth fashion. It’s as big as it wants to be in New York and L.A. and huge in Japan. It’s got a renegade eye, outlaw good taste, and a sort of cult following that lives on the razor’s edge of fashion, art, and sport.
GLENN O’BRIEN: So how is the recession treating you?
JAMES JEBBIA: Our business is really good. We didn’t plan for a financial crisis, but we were
already working hard, trying to make really good product, and we’ve always tried to keep our prices as reasonable as we can.
GO: We’re seeing an interesting moment in the marketplace. I think it’s a time for new values. I think some of these empty luxury brands are going to disappear.
JJ: I agree. I don’t wish for anybody to go out of business, but I think there are far too many things in New York that really shouldn’t be here. I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for more than 20 years, so three or four times I’ve been through things where it’s like, “Wow, it’s a tough time.” Ever since September 11, I’ve been quite conservative in what we’ve ordered. We’ve never really been supply-demand anyway. It’s not like when we’re making something, we make only six of them. But if we can sell 600, I make 400. We’ve always been like that—at least for the past seven or eight years. For every season, we put in a lot of work to try to create exciting stuff. So it’s not like in these difficult times we’re going to suddenly pull up our socks—we’ve always been busting our asses every single day to try to get it right.
GO: Was it like that in the beginning?
JJ: Not really. We opened in 1994—
GO: That was during an economic downturn, right?
JJ: Yeah, but we did good in that environment . . . It was really a different time. I had the Stüssy store right here on Prince Street, but Sean Stüssy, the designer, didn’t know whether he was going to do it for that long. He’d made a ton of money, and then I think he decided to retire. So I thought, Shit, I’d better be doing something else, too, because I don’t want to count on this. I’d always loved what went on in skateboarding. I’d never skated myself, but I loved the graphics—I really liked the rebelliousness of it. And a lot of kids who worked for me skated, but it seemed to me that there were no skate shops around. So I was like, “Okay, cool, maybe I’ll do a skate shop.” It cost me, like, $12,000 to open the store. Rent was two grand. It was like, “Hey, if we do five grand a week, then great!” We didn’t really do any business at first, but we did okay. I really liked all of the hard goods—the decks, the wheels, the trucks. But all of the clothing that the skate companies put out was crap. These companies had to sell to a wide range of people, and a lot of them were very young. When people think of skaters, they think of, like, the 12- or 13- or 14-year-old kid. But in New York, it was the 18-to-24-year-old hardcore kid who wasn’t wearing any skate stuff. They’d wear a hat or whatever, but they wouldn’t wear the clothing,because it would fit badly and was bad quality, and skaters want to look good and pick up girls. So we slowly started making our own stuff. It was a time when it was a lot easier to do that kind of thing. It was easier to make a sweatshirt in Brooklyn, or do these hats locally, because you could get nice things made fairly easily. And because we didn’t have to worry about appeasing a 14-year-old kid in a mall, we spent a lot of time trying to make the right stuff. We didn’t dumb it down—we only made things that we really liked. I feel like kids in New York appreciated that, and after a while we got a bit of a following in Japan and in Europe, and we’ve just kind of done it the same ever since. We’ve kept on that same mission of just being a small company, but really trying to make our product as good as anybody else’s and concentrating on what we can do well. That’s why I’ve appreciated you as a customer. A lot of people dismiss what we do. They think, Well, it’s skate, so it’s got to be, like, big baggy pants, cap backwards, big chain . . . They don’t understand that just because skating is the culture we’re working in, it doesn’t mean that we can’t make good things. Click HERE to continue reading…
In town for the opening of his eponymous solo show at MARIANNE BOESKY GALLERY, Japan’s YOSHITOMO NARA just couldn’t help himself in the Subway at Union Station when the graffiti urge overtook him. Unfortunately, New York’s “Finest” don’t exactly see drawings as “art” when they’re on walls instead of paper and the delicate art star spent two days in the slammer. Ouch:
POP ARTIST YOSHITOMO NARA ARRESTED FOR GRAFFITI IN NEW YORK
March 10, Japan Today
Yoshitomo Nara, a contemporary Japanese pop artist known for sculptures and paintings of doe-eyed figures, was arrested in late February for tagging graffiti in the Union Square subway station, a New York Police Department official said Monday.
Nara was arrested at 3:10 a.m. on Feb 27 and charged with criminal mischief, possession of graffiti instruments, making graffiti and resisting arrest, detective Martin Speechley told Kyodo News in a phone interview. An official at a New York art gallery where Nara’s exhibits are currently on display said the artist has already been released.
Nara, 49, who lives and works in Tochigi Prefecture, was in New York for a solo exhibition of his work at the Marianne Boesky Gallery that runs Feb 28 through March 28. The online edition of Art in America magazine said Nara was caught tagging a graffiti portrait of two Japanese friends in the subway station and he was optimistic about his two days in lockup.
It was ‘‘a nice experience in my life,’’ the artist was quoted as saying. He said the environment in which he found himself was like something in the movies. Nara emerged on the art scene during Japan’s pop art movement in the 1990s and has held solo exhibitions worldwide. His works are on display at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Click HERE to read more…
Japanese art sensation (he’s bigger than Murakami in his native land) YOSHITOMO NARA brought some much-needed heat to NYC last week with his eponymous new show of paintings, drawings and large-scale constructions at MARIANNE BOESKY GALLERY. Forming the centerpiece of the exhibition is a pair of large “Smurf houses” that double as mini art studios that were executed in conjunction with installation artists GRAF, who, together with Nara form the collective YNG (Yoshitomo Nara + Graf). Constructed from reclaimed wood, the forms of the two immense sculptures recall stylized tannenbaums, with their roof shingling evoking exaggerated tree needles. Small cutout windows and hanging lights punctuate the sculptures, providing them with the feel of a house or some surreal abode. The structures are hollow and present interiors replete with drawings and paintings all created in the artist's hand, and with a multitude of stuffed animals from fans selected by the artist. Though Nara has previously exhibited these types of moveable spaces before, the dwellings in this exhibition have a quieted sentiment to them. Each object within feels carefully considered in its placement. The frenzy of personal effects including photographs, CDs and beer cans, all evoking the turmoil and inspiration in the artist studio, has been removed. Instead the stillness of the structures, with their looming spires, presents a protective shell to the interiors. Though possible to peer into the structures and glimpse their holdings, they cannot be entered and the viewer must be content to remain on the exterior. The paintings, rendered on both canvas and wooden billboards, depict lone portraits of dreamy-eyed figures. Pencil and colored pencil drawings on found envelopes and discarded papers similarly parse the psychological landscape of their subjects. A dedicated rock fanatic Nara’s opening included live performances by Japanese bands by OORUTAICHI and M.A.G.O., proving that normally stuffy Gotham art openings can indeed rock and or roll. Nara is yet another artist participating in the "Stages" charity art show to benefit LANCE ARMSTRONG's anti-cancer LIVESTRONG foundation during his run in this year's Tour de France. Keep an eye on ST for more details coming soon. Meanwhile, HAVE A LOOK: Read More
French outdoor installation artist (call it “street art” if you must) extraordinaire JR continues his epic 28 MILLIMETER: WOMEN project with the unveiling this week of his most recent series of street-level installations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In town to photograph local women in the country’s capitol city, JR continues on his mission to portray the unseen and unempowered women of the world in and around the streets of their own neighborhoods. Reproducing the resulting imagery on a massive scale underscores the importance of these marginalized citizens and is intended to draw the eyes of the world to their often-unseen lives. A participant in the upcoming “Stages” art show to benefit LANCE ARMSTRONG’s anti-cancer LIVESTRONG charity, JR continues on with his next stop in Delhi, India before rolling into Paris in July to celebrate Tour de France and the biggest art project cycling has ever seen. Meanwhile, HAVE A LOOK: Read More
Los Angeles fashionista and collector MIGUEL DE LA BARRACUDA has teamed up with vinyl toymakers MINDSTYLE to create an extremely limited edition colorway of Hong Kong design king MICHAEL LAU's new STANLEY KUBRICK pack and MICHAEL JORDAN figures available only at his Hollywood BARRACUDA shop. Produced in the ultra-desirable white colorway the late, great director's legacy deserves, the KUBRICK PACK ($300 USD) includes characters from the signature movies, "A Clockwork Orange," "2001: A Space Odyssey," and "Full Metal Jacket," while the MICHAEL JORDAN figure (in blue and black shirt colorways, $150) pays ultimate homage to the greatest player the game may ever see. All are available in-store now and can be ordered for overseas delivery (323 852-7179). Don't sleep. HAVE A LOOK: Read More
LANCE ARMSTRONG IS A SHOW-STOPPER IN HOLLYWOOD
By Diane Pucin, LA Times, March 8, 2009
“Ben Stiller did the introductions and newly hot artist Shepard Fairey did a mural, but Lance Armstrong was the star Saturday night at the Ricardo Montalban Theater in Hollywood.
As part of his cycling comeback, Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner, has made clear that he is riding not only to win more races but also to raise more money for his cancer charity, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Armstrong is flying Sunday to Europe in advance of the third race in his comeback journey, the Milan-San Remo Classic. But on Saturday, Armstrong rode 2.2 miles with about 700 recreational cyclists and then spoke to an enthusiastic audience of art and cycling lovers.
Fairey has gained recent attention for his creation of the Barack Obama "Hope" image, and there was a Fairey-created mural celebrating Armstrong's cycling comeback and cancer-fighting commitment painted on the side of the theater.
Stiller introduced Armstrong by making a joke about how when the two of them walk down the street, people stop to marvel at Armstrong's ability to inspire awe because of his cycling accomplishments after recovering from cancer, and then they stare at Stiller and say, "Thunder, man," because of Stiller's starring appearance in the less-than-esoteric movie comedy "Tropic Thunder."
More than 20 artists have created works that will be displayed beginning July 16 at the Emmanuel Perrotin Gallery in Paris and will be sold with the proceeds going to Armstrong's foundation. Besides Fairey, other notable artists participating in this fundraiser include Tom Sachs, Eric White, Marc Newson, Os Gemeos and Taryn Simon.” Click HERE to continue reading…
To officially launch the LIVESTRONG "Stages" benefit art show (full details below) powered by NIKE that will debut during LANCE ARMSTRONG's run in this year's TOUR DE FRANCE, an epic kickoff celebration was held on Saturday nite at Nike's MONTALBAN THEATER in the heart of Hollywood.Read More