Archive for February, 2010

Dance to the New SIC

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

The Man. The Legend.

“He’s totally crazy!” an insider confided to me. “He wrote this insane book all about himself” (which said insider admits he has never read) “and gets all his friends together to read it. That’s crazy!”

But good crazy, right?

1. Adam McEwen 2. Matthew Higgs 3. Richard Phillips 4. Stefania Bortolami 5. Sean Landers

At an event produced by Art Production Fund and White Columns, an all-star roster of art world veterans read from the revised edition of Sean Landers’ SIC, originally printed as (sic) almost twenty years ago. The daisy chain of old friends read nonstop till 2am, by which time the audience had been whittled down to a few concrete devotees, who were rewarded with delicious pizza and the remnants of the vodka open bar.

(l-r) Artists Richard Phillips, John Currin; Jonathan Horowitz, Rob Pruitt

Readers included the old bachelor-pad studiomates John Currin, Richard Phillips, and brother Kevin Landers; the stately art-world incarnate Clarissa Dalrymple; former Landers dealer Andrea Rosen; new Landers dealer Friedrich Petzel; and of course, Sean Landers himself.  Rob Pruitt was lined up to read, only minutes after the signing party at nearby Gavin Brown for his new book, Pop Touched Me.  He didn’t get to read, however, as the event’s schedule required some trimming for brevity.

The Fab Forties

Star-studded? Indeed, there was even a portrait station to capture each of the shimmering pulsars participating.

White Columns' Matthew Higgs ready for his close-up

Like a teen dunking his little brother while swimming, SIC plunges its readers into the neurotic cesspools of Sean Landers’ polarized self-evaluations. His ruminations, mostly phallocentric, regularly cover masturbation, getting laid, and the shortcomings of his own anatomy.

(l) Clarissa Dalrymple and reclining Matthew Higgs; (r) Andrea Rosen

But he also circles the pithy topics of an old friend hopelessly lost in poetic misanthropy, the welcome gentrification of his neighborhood and himself as he turns 30, a revitalizing yet anticlimactic love affair in Greece, and the gradual, painful sinking of his relationship with Michelle, his girlfriend of three years at the time.  She is now his wife, but that break-up nearly pushed him over the edge.  Luckily, there is a dramatic deus-ex-machina rescue by the tender memory of Sean’s long dead sister.

(l-r) New SIC, new SIC, old (sic)

The new version of (sic) is so heavily revised that it was difficult for me to read along in my 1993 print.  But revisions might be helpful.  The 1993 version frustrated readers because of its protagonist’s recurring self-flagellation, the manic-depressive pace, and the aimless march of unresolved conflicts. But the funny parts are hysterical and the intimate candor seems touching; and doesn’t retouching the text compromise the stream-0f-conscious spontaneity that makes it so gripping?

(l-r) New SIC, new SIC, old (sic)

I love the book. But did the evening’s stream of readers dissipate into an arduous drone? Was there nothing to look at, something frustrating for an audience of visual artists? The projection cast behind the reader added nothing but scale and light. How about an accompanying slideshow? Or intermittent projections of the handwritten manuscript?

Gavin Brown, Jessica Craig-Martin; Adam McEwen, too

And did the absence of young artists participating seem to wall up Sean Landers and his peers from the great flea market of influence? This blog praises without reservation Sean Landers as a titan of 1990s art, and for some critics, he is THE FACE of that period’s slacker art. But the phalanx of mostly heterosexual 40-somethings seemed to deny the intergenerational fertility of Sean Landers’ work…

…which should be extruded through the channels of more mixed 30- and 20-somethings. Once a 90s artist, always a 90s artist? (I sure hope not! I wish there were more artists like Sean Landers.)  What will a decade with Petzel produce?

Long Live the McQueen

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

His Butterfly Gown

Only 40! One of the greatest living surrealist artists took his final bow this week. Baroque intricacy, intractable textures, dematerialized bodies, cyborg reconstitution…

…animal morphosis, bestial gesture, and anarchic irreverence: these are just a few ways to describe the legacy of Alexander McQueen.

His designs are indispensable and iconic; hence, the Met Museum even collects his work. This blog doesn’t usually care about fashion, with its culture of transiet disposability. But with McQueen, you could trace a lineage of art history that accomodates a fashion designer as visionary, clever, flamboyant, and hyperbolic as he was: El Greco, Girodet, Falero, Whistler, Duchamp, Ernst, Dalí…

Lynda Benglis

…Burne-Jones, Moreau, Klein, Warhol, Bontecou, Serra, Benglis, Chapman Brothers, Wim Delvoye, and now Urs Fischer and Sterling Ruby. I guess maybe Kehinde Wiley, but we seek a taut, frozen rope legacy.

Suit, 1997; Oyster Dress, 2003 in the Met Collection

Maybe the untimely suicide adds to the legend, though no suicide is worth the “Behind the Music” introspection. What would McQueen have done in the next ten years? Continue to make millions as a corporate Creative Director? Or would he get restless and bored with that? I always hoped he would design Opera sets, or maybe make a magical movie.