Joe Black is an artist who uses Pop Art against itself. Collecting iconic imagery (often choosing those which have already been famously exploited by other artists), Black creates large-scale hued portraits using copious amounts of consumer items. One of many artists using collected masses of materials into larger mosiac-style works, Black claims that he is open to using any material as long as it is small and plentiful (past pieces have used Lego pieces, toy soldiers, pins, ball bearings, badges) and relates to the source image. These images, which are best seen from a distance of fifty feet, offer a contextual surprise for viewers upon closer inspection.
Though trained as an artist and painter, Black claims to be uncomfortable labeling himself a professional artist, preferring to consider his work more based on image-making and craftsmanship. One such aspect is the time-consuming application of several thousand smaller pieces which make up his whole images, which Black hand-alters by using aerosol to add tones that give gentle gradients which become the lines and shading of the portrait. (via u1u11)
Whether through painting, illustration, sculpture, or installation, Kenny Scharf displays an aesthetic saturated with bright colors and playful figures. Think: Pee Wee’s Playhouse + Keith Haring on acid. With his work, Scharf seamlessly integrates pop culture into fun and fluid forms. With his pop culture appeal, it’s no surprise that Scharf has been commissioned to do commercial work by companies such as Kiehl’s, Vans, and Swatch. While other artists might have a different viewpoint on commercial work, for Scharf, the opportunity to bring his playful forms into everyday products is of significant cultural value, “One very important and guiding principle to my work is to reach out beyond the elitist boundaries of fine art and connect to popular culture through my art,” Scharf writes in his artist statement.
New Levels, the title of John Chae‘s new series of work, captures its dual nature succinctly. While the phrase New Levels may partly refer to higher levels of perception or consciousness, you may likely have had the same first impression as I did: video games. Chae’s paintings use both elements of fine art history and throw-away pop culture imagery – he visually cites Magritte and Escher alongside manga artists. Chae moves beyond the highbrow/lowbrow juxtaposition of our pop-art grandparents. Rather, his paintings are for and from a generation that doesn’t consume images as much as it puts them to use as a recyclable tool of self-expression.
Italian artist Mauro Perucchetti’s pop sculptures take jabs at everything from Barack Obama to religious ideology (see angry Jesus on the cross after the jump). Working in a large range of mediums from hand carved marble (like the above Batman & Superman sculpture) to cast resin, Perucchetti’s work has the perfect mixture of ironic wit and social critique.
German painter and photographer Sigmar Polke (1941 – 2010) died yesterday from complications of cancer, according to Gordon Veneklasen, the artist’s main American representative. Polke invigorated the world of pop art and beyond with his parodic examinations of consumerism and politics, especially those concerning post-war Germany. The artist resisted artistic conventions by expanding on ideas of “what art is” with his multi-faced, mixed media pieces.
“We cannot rely on it that good painting will be made one day. We have to take the matter in hand ourselves,” Polke once said. A bit of an understatement, but I’ll allow Polke’s “good painting” to speak for itself. Check out more of my favorites after the cut.
As a founding member of Italian design group Memphis, Milan-based artist and designer Nathalie Du Pasquier has designed a plethora of poppy, bright, and playful textiles, pieces of furniture, and design objects. Since the group’s disbanding in 1987, Nathalie has become more of a traditional artist, creating paintings and sculptures clearly steeped in the distinctive Memphis aesthetic.
Los Angeles-based pop illustrator Lou Beach has been creating these bright, comical collages since the 70s and 80s. While collage work doesn’t normally do it for me, I like this stuff. He’s also done a ton of commercial work over the years, including album covers like Blink 182′s opus, Dude Ranch.
Tomokazu Matsuyama was born in Japan. He moved to the US when he was around ten years old, not speaking any English, and being overwhelmed by the culture shock of 1980s Los Angeles. His work is a reflection of this upbringing. Matsuyama’s paintings envision traditional Japanese imagery through the lens of American pop art, creating a unique and beautiful hybrid.