ARTiculate

Month: January, 2014

Let Us Spray: Up Close and Personal with New York’s Early Graffiti Writers

Lee Quiñones, Howard the Duck, 1988, oil on canvas. Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York.

Lee Quiñones, Howard the Duck, 1988, oil on canvas. Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York.

Lady Pink’s 1982 painting Manic Depression depicts the New York street artist—then just a lanky teen—vulnerably slumped on the floor of a jail cell, which she shares with two prostitutes. The walls of the cell are scrawled with notes and graffiti tags, the largest of which reads, “Lady Pink.” The work isn’t as self-assured or psychedelic as Lady Pink’s later canvases, which often feature ghoulish creatures navigating trippy, urban wonderlands, but artist and collector Martin Wong knew he had to have it. Why? Because it is the first painting the artist created using a brush, rather than an aerosol can.

This canvas is one of many that Wong procured from his graffiti-writer friends. A fixture of the Lower East Side art scene in the ’80s and early ’90s, the Portland, Oregon–born Wong was deeply and personally connected to the graffiti movement. Tags and other street-art motifs even crept into the artist’s own paintings of prisons, redbrick tenements, and downtown neighborhoods. (The Estate of Martin Wong is now represented by P.P.O.W and his paintings are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Metropolitan Museum, among others. An exhibition of Wong’s personal possessions was on view at the Gugenheim Museum last spring.)

Through trading his paintings and buying work directly from his friends, Wong amassed a vast holding of sketches, photographs, notebooks, and early paintings by graffiti writers including Futura 2000, Daze, Lady Pink, Lee Quiñones, and Keith Haring. After being diagnosed with AIDS in 1994, Wong donated his expansive collection to the Museum of the City of New York and moved back to the West Coast. Beginning February 4, the museum will present Wong’s collection for the first time in a new exhibition titled “City as Canvas.” The show demonstrates Wong’s dedication to collecting artworks that not only highlight his personal taste, but that, together, tell the story of New York’s graffiti movement. “City as Canvas” is curated by Sean Corcoran and is accompanied by a catalogue edited by Corcoran and curator Carlo McCormick. Read the full story on artnews.com!

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Dealer, Actress, Pop Icon: Homage to Holly Solomon

Holly Solomon sits in front of the nine-panel silkscreen portrait that Andy Warhol created of her. Courtesy Holly Solomon Estate.

Holly Solomon sits in front of the nine-panel silkscreen portrait that Andy Warhol created of her. Courtesy Holly Solomon Estate.

“I’m Holly Solomon and I would like to make an exhibition in this room,” Chelsea gallerist Pavel Zoubok recalls the flamboyant art dealer announcing to a waiter in La Maison du Chocolat’s cocoa-colored tearoom. It was 2001 and Solomon’s health had begun to decline, but she was still sharp-witted and imaginative. Inspired by the Upper East Side café’s chocolate-covered décor and swirling upholstery, the dealer, then in her late 60s, envisioned the space filled with works by artists she represented such as Julia Jacquette and Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt. “No matter where she went,” says Zoubok, “she could see the art woven into the environment.”

It is this spirit of adventurousness and ingenuity that Zoubok evokes in the upcoming exhibition “Hooray for Hollywood!” The show, which will feature works by such figures as Laurie Anderson, Robert Mapplethorpe, Izhar Patkin, Andy Warhol, and William Wegman, will pay homage to Solomon’s achievements as both a gallerist and Pop icon, as well as the enduring friendships she fostered with her artists. “Hollywood,” which is co-curated by Steven Sergiovanni and Heather Bhandari, opens Thursday at Pavel Zoubok Gallery and Mixed Greens gallery in New York.

Solomon’s dynamic personality is captured in the portrait section of the exhibition. The dealer, who studied acting with Lee Strasberg, reveals her theatrical side in works by Mapplethorpe and Wegman. Read the full story on artnews.com!