They had a good run, but I’ve moved on to other footwear after nearly a year donning a pair of distinctly blue shoes. Now, having given them up to search out greener pastures, so to speak, it seems the rest of the world has come around to the appeal of untraditionally bright kicks. When the Sartorialist points something out, I can’t tell if that means that it’s fast approaching trendy, or already overexposed — but I think I’m ready to try something new.
I’ve got a thing for prankster sculpture.
Jeff Koons, Mike Kelley, and the granddaddy of all art bad boys, Marcel Duchamp, have always proven adept at injecting sly humor into otherwise valid objects of cultural and emotional interest. That is to say, they are known for work that strives to be part of the critical conversation, but that also reserves the right to mock the self-importance of these same institutions. You might call their approach ‘ironic’ if the results weren’t often so poignant and genuinely engaging.
Maurizio Cattelan (whose sculpture/installation ‘untitled’ is pictured above) isn’t always as libidinal as the other artists I mentioned, but — like the others — his sculptures and performances have always been humorous, concerned with art history and how it relates to contemporary culture, and are oftentimes shocking or disturbing. I like the work above because it seems a little more subtle than, say, his suicidal squirrel or squashed Pope, but just as devious, somehow. This piece quotes Richard Serra’s corner prop series of sculptures and also traffics in the classic artistic pursuit of drapery found in everything from the Nike of Samothrace to works by Da Vinci, Caravaggio and beyond. It also, of course, pokes fun at all these things — a janitor’s broom sent to sweep away our tendencies towards preciousness and reverence in the museum. The fact that Cattelan’s pieces are usually meant to inhabit spaces in the museum or gallery that are occupied with artwork that is firmly part of the canon just ups the volume of his idiosyncratic message.
For those of you near Houston, check out the piece above — and many other of Cattelan’s works — dispersed throughout the Menil through August 15th. I wish I could see it! All we’ve got in Seattle is this little dog…
Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with my lady exploring Seward Park. We heard some tap-tapping towards the end of our walk that, upon further inspection, turned out to be this guy. Pileated Woodpeckers are surprisingly big — the size of a crow — and they really do have the classic ‘Woody Woodpecker’ shock of red plumage on their heads. For a North American bird, he looks almost tropical.
As I approached, this nervous fellow went hopping up the tree, keeping an eye on me the whole time. After I backed off, though, he descended once again to resume the excavation he had started below.