Mar 292024
 

“The Last Supper”, 1986, Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen

In the 1980s Andy Warhol created a series of paintings based around Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. The one above is currently on view at The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In 2010 it was on view as part of the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition Andy Warhol: The Last Decade.

From their website about the work-

The Last Supper series was commissioned to inaugurate a new gallery in Milan, Italy, located across the street from the site of the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic fresco (circa 1495–98) depicting Jesus’s last meal with his followers. Warhol worked obsessively for more than a year on this series, producing more than a hundred Last Supper paintings, both silkscreened and hand-painted, that were some of the largest paintings of his career.

Despite his public proclamations to the contrary, Warhol was profoundly moved by the series. Of these works, he remarked, “I painted them all by hand—I myself; so now I’ve become a Sunday painter. . . . That’s why the project took so long. But I worked with a passion.” These paintings manifest both his religious beliefs—his practice of Catholicism remained private until it was revealed at his funeral—and an irreverence toward the subject, expressed through ironic commercial logos and transgressive repetitions of Christ’s image.

Warhol created many variations using versions and pieces of da Vinci’s fresco and there is some debate as to the meanings behind them. In 2018, curator Jessica Beck wrote Warhol’s Confession: Love, Faith, and AIDs, an in-depth essay exploring possible meanings behind the work. She suggests Warhol was referencing AIDS, suffering, health, and mortality, along with his relationship to Christianity.

In this section of the essay she discusses the imagery from the painting-

The tension between Warhol’s sexuality and his religious life has its fullest expression in paintings such as The Last Supper (The Big C), in which signs and symbols create a private reference to AIDS. Hand-painted via a projection process, like paintings of 1961–62 such as Before and After, Wigs, and Dr. Scholl’s Corns, the canvas is left partly unfinished, and Warhol employs a light touch with an abstract brushstroke. On this canvas the figure of Christ recurs four times, while hands appear repeatedly. Thomas’s finger pointing to the sky, intimating that heaven knows he is free of guilt, appears prominently next to the “eye” in the Wise potato-chip logo.

…The source material for the painting, in the archives of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, is a collage made up of headlines from the New York Post, motorcycle ads, and clippings reading “the Big C” and “AIDS” cut from a front-page article in the Post. Warhol ultimately left out the AIDS headline while keeping the more covert “The Big C,” but given the direct references to “gay cancer” in his diaries, it becomes clear that this image of Christ was connected for him to the rapid rate at which people were dying around him. “The Big C” was synonymous with AIDS. The Last Supper (The Big C) reflects on sex and shame through appropriated images of Christ’s betrayal, the piercing owl’s eye (the Wise logo), and the numbers 699, appropriated from a price tag—$6.99—but indexing both the sexual position “69” and the “mark of the beast,” 666, in the Book of Revelations. Even the details of Christ’s feet at the far right of the canvas seem to point to the notion of punishment: for Steinberg, writing on Leonardo’s Last Supper, “as [Christ’s feet] rejoin the rest of the body, they foreshadow it glorified; and they foreshadow it crucified.”34  The image of Christ offering his flesh in the Eucharist was a symbol of salvation during a time of suffering, an unusually personal and emotional image for Warhol. In keeping with the complexities of his construction of death in the Death and Disasters, and with its repression in the diaries, the painting speaks of sex and of judgment. It is an allegorical triangulation of mourning, punishment, and fear.

For more on Warhol an his diaries, the Netflix documentary is really informative as well as entertaining. It’s a moving portrait that goes beyond what most people know about Warhol, both as an artist and as a person.

Mar 072024
 

Francesca Woodman, “Untitled (Rome), 1977-8, Gelatin silver print (image via Columbus Museum of Art)

Two of Cindy Sherman’s “Film Stills”, Gelatin silver prints from the 1970s

Four Gelatin silver prints by Diane Arbus

Francesca Woodman’s “Italy”, 1977-1978 (printed later) Gelatin silver print

Currently on view at Columbus Museum of Art is Arbus • Sherman • Woodman: American Photography from the 1960s and 1970s. Although many of these photographs by Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman and Francesca Woodman are well known, it’s great to see the work of these three exceptional artists in person. The black and white images still captivate, even in our current image saturated world.

About the show from the museum-

This selection of monochromatic prints reflects a shared interest in capturing the world outside oneself as well as the world within. Perspective is an elemental link between each work: the images speak to how we see ourselves as individuals, how we are perceived, and how we observe others.

While Arbus was known for photographing families, children, pedestrians, performers, and celebrities, both Sherman and Woodman turned the camera on themselves. Dressing as anonymous female film characters from the 1950s and 1960s, Sherman poses in the series “Untitled Film Stills”. However, these works are not considered self-portraits, but rather carefully constructed performances of various female identities. Conversely, Woodman’s surrealist images might be called non-traditional self-portraits. By obscuring, blurring, or cropping parts of herself out of the final image, the photographs become intimate, personal snapshots that reflect a wider human fragility.

Arbus, Sherman, and Woodman are considered among the most prominent twentieth-century photographers and remain influential to contemporary artists today. By including aspects of feminism in their work and pushing the limits of the medium, these women challenged societal norms of their time while contributing to the elevation of photography as an art form.

It’s always interesting to hear artists discuss each other’s work. Included in the exhibition is this quote by Cindy Sherman about Francesca Woodman-

“She had few boundaries and made art out of nothing: empty rooms with peeling wallpaper and just her figure. No elaborate stage set-up or lights… Her process struck me more the way a painter works, making do with what’s right in front of her, rather than photographers like myself who need time to plan out what they’re going to do.”

For more on Francesca Woodman, her short life, and her artistic family, The Woodmans is an excellent documentary.

Jul 272023
 

Sinéad O’Connor- Feel So Different

Sad to hear of the passing of the brave, beautiful, and talented musician Sinéad O’Connor yesterday at 56 years old. A true artist with a phenomenal voice, she always stood firm in her convictions. The song above is from her second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got released in 1990.

To learn more about O’Connor, her memoir Rememberings was released in 2021 and there is also the 2022 documentary,  Nothing Compares.

Rest in Peace.

Jun 232023
 


Closing tomorrow, 6/24, is Cross Communication, an exhibition of Chris Burden’s relics, films, video works, and other materials that document his early performances at Gagosian’s 75th and Park location in NYC.

Walking into the gallery and hearing one of his TV commercials in which he reads off the names of famous artists followed by his own name (Chris Burden Promo (1976)), is a humorous introduction to Burden’s often audacious work. Poem for LA from 1975, which follows with the messages- “SCIENCE HAS FAILED”, “HEAT IS LIFE” and “TIME KILLS” still resonates today.

Check out the video below to see the commercials and hear Burden discuss the work.

Other videos included have him crawling across glass; lying between two sheets of glass that are on set on fire (Icarus); and one of his most infamous- being shot in the arm (Shoot, 1971). The less outrageous works are great too, including Disappearing (1971), pictured above.

For more on the artist, the excellent documentary Burden, by Richard Dewey and Timothy Marrinan, follows his career from these earlier works to the large scale sculptures like Metropolis II and Urban Light that came later. Both of these installations are on view in Los Angeles at LACMA.

Feb 162022
 

This work is by Augusta artist Leonard “Porkchop”  Zimmerman.

Zimmerman is the subject of the 2016 documentary Happy: A Small Film With a Big Smile, by filmmaker Michael McKinley. The film was inspired by the artist’s 2014 TED Talk.

Jun 232016
 

Plants and Animals- Stay

Things to do in Los Angeles this weekend (6/23-6/27/16)-

Thursday

The Ace Hotel is hosting a screening of the John Waters narrated documentary, Wall Writers: Graffiti in its Innocence, presented by Juztapoz Magazine and International Documentary Association and followed by a Q&A led by Cheech Marin featuring director Roger Gastman, TAKI183 and KOOL KLEPTO KIDD.

Artist Lara Schnitger is speaking at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel and Moon Uterus are performing as part of the gallery’s After 5 programming (free with RSVP)

Nothing are playing with Wrong, Tennis System, Culture Abuse and Big Jesus at the Echoplex

Cub Sport are playing at the Bootleg Theater

Friday

Plants and Animals are playing at the Bootleg Theater with Royal Canoe

General Assembly in Santa Monica is hosting a day of free programming for creatives with a wrap party at the end as part of their Made in LA week long event

Cherry Glazerr is headlining a night at The Troubadour

Moby will be discussing his memoir Porcelain with KCRW’s Jason Bentley at Skirball ($5 for the ticket, $31 with the book)

Toro y Moi are DJ’ing a free art event at The Container Yard

Roses, Dunes, Mirror Travel and Jess Williamson are playing a $5 show at the Ham & Eggs Tavern

Saturday

Self Help Graphics & Art is having their Annual Print Fair & Exhibition

Dazed and Confused is the outdoor movie at The Autry with the band MASZER playing beforehand

Raising Arizona is the outdoor movie at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Summer and Music, Downtown Long Beach’s summer long concert series, begins with 720 Pine which has an emphasis on skateboarding, and musical guests including Devendra Banhart DJ’ing

The Roots & Special Guests are playing at The Novo

Cold Showers are headlining a night of bands at Complex in Glendale

Saturday and Sunday

CatCon LA is back at The Reef with two full days of cat related programming. On Saturday, as part of CatCon, there is CatVideoFest, 70 minutes of non-stop cat videos at The Ace Hotel hosted by comedian Andy Milonakis

Sunday

Painter and muralist Kim West will be speaking at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel gallery (free with RSVP)

Casket Girls are part of the lineup for Graveface Records Roadshow at the Bootleg Theater

Feb 282014
 

Cutie and the Boxer- Official Trailer

Currently on Netflix streaming and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, Cutie and the Boxer is a glimpse into the lives of two artists, Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko.

Noriko was only a 19-year old art student when she met 41-year old  artist Ushio, and they have remained together ever since. While the film presents Noriko’s sacrifices and frustrations within the relationship, it also shows the process that goes into the artistic work itself for each of them. Now, forty years later, she is showing her own work and emerging from the shadow of her husband’s career.  It’s a fascinating, intimate portrait of the couple.

For more information on Ushio:

http://www.ushioshinohara.com/

This is a good interview with Noriko:

http://thehairpin.com/2013/08/interview-with-noriko-shinohara

Dec 072013
 

I first discovered Agnés Varda through the documentary, The Beaches of Agnés.  She’s an incredible person, who at 85 (80 in the film), is still making films. This unique presentation of her life is both compelling and inspiring.

Check out some of her work at LACMA’s Agnés Varda in Californialand.