Paul McCarthy creates provocatively whimsical sculptures. Perhaps his most recently well-known sculpture is Balloon Dog, literally a giant inflatable red balloon animal. His other work seeks to assault the viewer’s senses in a variety of ways, either with sexual or violent imagery. McCarthy combines elements from pop culture and images rife with symbolism into erotic or abject displays that are at once captivating and, at times, charming. McCarthy also conflates elements of high and low culture, creating an aesthetic that seeks to challenge fundamental beliefs. His most recent work, WS, is an 8800 square foot installation depicting Snow White’s tale in typical McCarthyesque abject fashion, and on view at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City until August 4th. You can also read more about McCarthy and this work in this New York Times article, published in May.
A chemist by trade, Jon Smith‘s high speed photography captures exploding light bulbs. He first fills the bulbs with various textural elements, such as feathers, sand, candy, dust, and paint. He then sometimes dips the light bulbs into paint before shooting them with a pellet gun and capturing the results. Smith’s method creates photographs that are rich in texture, color, and movement. Back in March, Smith told Flickr “People see and use light bulbs every day. They’re something we don’t pay attention to…by shooting them, having them explode and filling them with different materials creates an interesting juxtaposition that I’m really drawn to.” Known on Flickr as WideEyedIlluminations, you can read more about Smith’s light bulb photography over at Flickr’s blog where he is also featured in a video discussing how photography saved his life.
“It’s Hardly Noticeable explores the world of a character who navigates living with an unspecified anxiety-based mental illness. He negotiates situations constructed to highlight the impacts and implications of his differences on his thoughts and behaviors, and by doing so raises question of normalcy. Through constructed tableaus and metaphorical still lifes, the series reveals the relationship between reality and perception, and highlights issues of pathology while questioning stereotypes of normalcy.
In 2009 economist Bill Gross used the term New Normal to define the American economic landscape of the very recent past. In ensuing years, the term resonated with culture at large and became an umbrella term for changes in cultural and societal practices, identifying a shift in held notions of what is commonly viewed as acceptable.
These images question the legitimacy of applying the term normal in a societal context by prompting a reconsideration of what, if anything, is normal, or at least what is perceived and labeled as such. Is it possible for a society to have a commonly held idea of what is normal, when few individuals in that society actually meet the criteria for normalcy?” – John William Keedy‘s artist statement for this series.
Carsten Höller’s work intends “to trigger the organic responses that underpin the structure of learned behavior, to unbalance the rational mind…Using his training as a scientist in his work as an artist, Höller’s primary concerns relate to the nature of human perception and self-exploration. He has undertaken many projects that invite viewer participation and interaction while questioning human behavior, perception, and logic. His “laboratory of doubt,” embodied in objects ranging from carousels and slippery slides to upside-down goggles, often contains playful, hallucinatory or darkly humorous overtones in order to provoke experience and reflection.” – from Gagosian Gallery. Read more about Höller’s work and his 2011 exhibition at the New Museum here.
“Most of my pieces are small sculptural objects often based on found natural materials. I like giving time to the inconspicuous things that surround us and often go unnoticed, paying attention to small details and the tactile quality of objects. Appropriating traditional craft techniques like weaving and crochet as a means of sculpture brings a contemplative element to the development of my work. I am interested in unusual combinations of materials, the experimentation with fragility and strength and the individual stories that evolve and shape themselves in the process of making.” – Susanna Bauer
Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrap and accent their environments with millions of square feet of rope shroud and fabric. Their wrapped and accented installations recontextualize the objects and their surrounding spaces, asking the viewer to consider both the presence and absence of the wrapped objects and the perception of new landscapes. At once conceptually simple and physically difficult to bring to complete fruition, the new environments are breathtaking in their starkness and beauty. Their installations often consume years of commitment and devotion. Wrapped Trees were the outcome of 32 years of effort.
Via Colossal: “Sculptor Manuel Martí Moreno lives and works in Valencia, Spain and forms these wonderful figurative pieces out of iron nuts. Via email Moreno says that he is most interested in showing the passage of time, the transience of life, and our collective awareness of our own mortality, seemingly evidenced by the spectre of decay at the edges of his works. You can see more images including installation shots on his blog, and also here. If you liked this, also check out the sculptures of Park Chan-Girl.”
“In my artwork I always use printed matter – discarded books, magazines, and computer printouts; the cultural debris of our information society. The sculptures I create reference Eastern and Western icons and intellectual figures, thereby exploring cultural meanings and concepts. I always use text in my work and the content of the texts are relevant to my sculptures. My finished sculptures often seem to be wood or marble, though they consist of paper. They are constructed in such a way that the various parts fit together in a seamless manner.” – Chen Long-Bin, from Volta NY