At 356 S. Mission Rd, Los Angeles CA
Richard L. Feigen & Co. is pleased to present Ray Johnson’s Art World, on view November 7, 2014 through January 16, 2015. The exhibition pairs Johnson’s collage and mail art with works by his contemporaries John Baldessari, Lynda Benglis, Chuck Close, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, James Rosenquist, Edward Ruscha, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, and May Wilson. Ray Johnson’s Art World provides a window into Johnson’s complex verbal and visual language, and reveals the ways in which Johnson’s work parallels and confronts the work of his fellow artists.
Ray Johnson’s Art World includes John Baldessari’s Blasted Allegories (1978), an exploration into the complex structure of established rules and conditions governing the use and practice of image as language; Lynda Benglis’s controversial 1974 Artforum spread, along with her sculpture Parenthesis(1975), consisting of two cast aluminum dildos in a velvet lined box; Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece (1964), filmed by the Maysles Brothers, a performance in which the audience can approach her with instructions to use a pair of scissors to cut her dress; an Andy Warhol Large Cambell’s Soup Can from 1964; and early collages by James Rosenquist, including A Drawing While Waiting for an Idea (1966), which represents an Eastern philosophical turn in Rosenquist’s thought.
The exhibition complements Elizabeth Zuba’s Not Nothing: Selected Writings by Ray Johnson, 1954-1994, a collection of over 200 unpublished writings that provides a textual parallel to Ray Johnson’s Art World.
Ray Johnson was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1927. He began his artistic training at Cass Technical High School, and then at Black Mountain College from 1945-48. In early 1949, Johnson moved to New York City with fellow Black Mountain associates Richard Lippold and John Cage, as well as the avant-garde musician Morton Feldman. Johnson’s body of work spans many media, but he is most known for his intricate and complex collages, and his mail art project, The New York Correspondance [sic] School, a movement that utilized the postal system as a means of distribution outside of the commercial art world and that eventually reached international proportions. In 1968, Johnson moved to Long Island, New York, where he lived and worked in increasing isolation. While Johnson has remained relatively unknown, he was an influence on a friend of key art figures, including Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, and Roy Lichtenstein. He is associated with several art movements and groups, such as Pop Art, Conceptual Art, and the Fluxus group. Johnson continued to produce work until his suicide in 1995, an act that many consider to be his final performance.
Richard L. Feigen & Co.
34 East 69th Street
Kiddie Flamingos, 2014
Blue-Ray with 2 channel audio
Edition of 5
Marianne Boesky Gallery is pleased to present Beverly Hills John, an exhibition of new work by John Waters. This is the artist’s third solo show at the gallery, and will be on view from January 9 to February 14, 2015, at 509 W. 24th Street, New York.
For 50 years, John Waters has provoked the idiosyncrasies and hilarities of the movie business – the childhood stars, the trade lingo, and the false depiction of the ugly and the heroic. His photographic work (since 1995) has taken on politically charged topics of “cinematic correctness,” religious lunacy, and media manipulation. A recurring theme of Waters’ oeuvre is the appropriation of images from other directors’ films then rendered into storyboards that change the meaning of the first celluloid frames. Within these “little movies,” as Waters calls them, the artist redirects and highlights the damaged narrative that the public often overlooks.
More personal and self-critical, this new body of work seeks resolution to a set of questions about Waters’ own experiences, or as he describes them: his childhood fame issues, his fear of false glamour and nouveau-riche comfort, his ongoing sexual attractions, and the possible horror and risk of a “careericide” with dignity. In Self Portrait #5, Waters portrays himself as a despised dogcatcher, nostalgically yearning for the days he was hated by the “moral” guardians. In Beverly Hills John, he imagines himself with a plastic surgery makeover, lip and cheek augmentation, Botox, and an alarming hair transplant. Hysterically poking fun at his own vulnerability in these images, Waters also sincerely asks whether his reinvention invites self-parody. Regarding these depictions, he writes, “Since I haven’t made a film in ten years, must I give my entire life’s work a facelift? Now that celebrity is the only obscenity left in the art world, where do I fit in?”
In the main gallery, Waters draws from his notoriety as a film director to present a new 74-minute video entitled Kiddie Flamingos. The video shows a table read of Waters’ X-rated 1972 cult film Pink Flamingos, rewritten as a children’s movie with an all-kid cast. Waters hopes that this defanged and desexualized sequel is even more perverse than the original, transferring innocence into a new kind of joyous, G-rated obscenity.
Other works in the exhibition speak to Waters’ concerns about the contemporary art world more directly, the jargon of success, and the debatable definition of a ‘classic.’ In Congratulations, Waters riffs on the infamous red dot once commonly used in galleries to indicate a sale. In Library Science 1-10, Waters juxtaposes literature with related pornography, and in Cancel Ansel, he challenges the role of art to wreck the past. All of these statements at their core are a call to viewers to overthrow hierarchy and interrogate the very value systems in which we all participate. This is the pillar of Waters’ craft, and the severity of his comedy.
Marianne Boesky Gallery