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Kenny Scharf (1958)

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It has been a very long time since i first encountered the works by Kenny Scharf at the Groninger Museum in the early Eighties. During  the famous Grafiti exhibition the works by Scharf were among the ones i admired most. Comic like , huge paintings that impressed, but somehow…. over the years ….did not stick with me.  Last month i encountered a catlogue by the Tony Shafrazi gallery. It was the Scharf 1983 catalogue and i was fascinated again. the same powerful comic like figures , but over the decades they have matured into great timeless art. The catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com

scharf 1983 a

scharf 1983 c

scharf 1983 d

Here is what Angelica Jardini says on Kenny Scharf and i can fully agree with her.

If you like to have fun, you’re going to like Kenny Scharf.

The American painter sources his fantastical creations from retro cartoons, like The Jetsons and The Flintstones, and popular science fiction. His style is completely unique, and once you know his colorful, animorphic creatures, you’ll see them everywhere.

No, literally. Scharf does tons of murals and public art. This ties in with his manifesto to make art for the people- works that anyone can enjoy, not just stuffy academics or rich collectors. And his vividly playful tableaux live up to his goals.  Whether he’s picking Instagram followers for “Karbombz,” where he spraypaints one of his signature critters on your car for free, or reimagining a picnic table as a psychadelic atomic bomb, Scharf breaks down the elitist barriers of the art world by implementing his vision in lots of places outside the gallery and museum.

And boy is he prolific. He’s collaborated on a collection with fashion designer Jeremy Scott, creates immersive blacklight installations called “cosmic closets” for parties, and even designed this hilarious pool toy

Though a lot of his work references serious subjects like apocalyptic nuclear warfare, he somehow makes it lighthearted. One of his newest series of paintings features shining cartoon donuts, some of which are hurtling through space. Homer Simpson and I were both tickled pink (with sprinkles). 

Scharf hit it big in the 1980’s art scene in a little place called the East Village, in Manhattan. He was friends and roommates with famous street artist Keith Haring, and it’s easy to imagine them tagging up the town, brightening city streets and commuters’ days with their creative graffiti.

Now you’d assume most famous artists with famous friends would let success go to their head, but when we met Scharf at an event he graciously passed the time chatting with us about his life and work. Over ice cream tacos, we learned he likes to ride his bike and that he released his pet turtles to a local turtle sanctuary where he visits them often.

Like his art, the guy makes you smile.

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Kriki / Christian Vallee (1965)

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Punk, Underground/Metro, music, resistance, grafiti, painting, street art.-

All these words are related to the artist Kriki who made a name for himself in the Paris art scene in the mid Eighties.

In 1984, in Paris, Kriki founds a group of painters called Nuklé-Art and the electro punk group Les Envahisseurs. With the street and the Underground as his art school, he is involved in the beginnings of what is now known as Street Art. Immersed in alternative culture, he is identified from the beginning as one of the emblematic figures amongst the young French painters of the nineteen eighties. Kriki clearly belongs to the generation whose sensibility expressed itself in Free Figurative Art, which he helps to renew. Still very young, he exhibits with Keith Haring, Futura 2000 and even with Basquiat and Wim Delvoye. At just 23 years old, he has his first solo exhibition at FIAC (Paris) which will then move on to the Gramercy Art Fair in New York; this will lead to taking part in the very first exhibitions of his work in now famous Paris galleries such as Jérôme de Noirmont and Kamel Mennour. Kriki at that time becomes well known for a style which becomes immediately identifiable on the international scene, making him into one of the major artists of his generation.

In 1985, Kriki invents Fuzz, a half-robot, half polymorphous fetish, appearing as a virus infecting the history of art, and of which the Museum of Modern Art in Paris will publish a specimen. Kriki manipulates the original images from which his paintings emerge, resisting our initial attempts at a reading in order to express themselves in a universal language. Today, Kriki is still an incarnation of punk culture in French contemporary art, leading Ernest Van Buyender, the Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp to write: “Kriki is the only French artist whose originality and ambition can be seen as a bridge between Sub Culture and High Culture”. http://www.ftn-books.com has one rare Kriki publication available.kriki

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Robert Combas (1957)

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For me Robert Combas is a fun artist. Painting large canvasses with “comic” like figures , thick outlines resulting in a complete style of his own . It is worth visiting his personal site at http://www.combas.com and what i learned from it, is that Combas makes music too. I did not know this before . He is in  a group called LES SANS PATTES and i checked it out at Spotify. A little ambient, a little chansons and some poetry makes this highly original too. This fascinating and versatile artist was a little forgotten outside France, until he had a greatest hits exhibition in the MAC in Lyon in 2012. His paintings can be grouped according to themes, but they all have in common their highly original and recognizable Combas style. If you do not have anything tot do this weekend, visit his personal site and listen to Les Sans Pattes , view them on Youtube and order some great Robert Comas books at www.ftn-books.com

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where is the velum by Keith Haring?

 

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Keith Haring had one of his first European exhibitions within the Stedelijk Museum and for this occasion he made a very large ceiling piece/ the VELUM ( 1986), which was there during the exhibitions and for some time after, but….. since the exhibition i have never seen it again! Of course it is possible i have missed it, because i dit not visit the Stedelijk Museum each day  i went to Amsterdam, but it is strange that in 30 years i never have seen it again. It was an extremely large piece by Haring and should be one of the key objects within any collection, because it represents everything the art of Keith Haring has become famous for.  I checked the site of the Stedelijk Museum , but could not find it in the collection. Any readers who can help?

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The site Widewalls has an excellent description why Keith Haring is important and was one of the key figures in the Grafiti art movement.

The 1990s were a time of change for many social and cultural aspects on a global scale. Art particularly saw many artists bring tremendous change in this period, and Keith Haring was one of them. Drawing and painting murals in public locations, Haring was often philosophical about his approach to creating artwork, and was amazed and inspired by the interaction and feedback he would get from people around him. Although he was young, he had developed a very specific concept of what art should represent, and the ideology carried over through his work would leave an everlasting effect on the street culture in New York City, as well as art as a whole. Along with Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, Futura 2000 and Richard Hambleton, among others, he was part of the young, up-and-coming group of the American artists who challenged art’s old perceptions.

Fortunately the publications on Haring at www.ftn-books.com did not disappear ( but they can get sold out).

 

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Slovenia and Modern Art

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A few days no daily posting , because of a short holiday in a fascinating country…SLOVENIA. It takes only 2 days to drive there and enjoy one of the most beautiful sceneries in Europe. High mountains, rivers, castles and excellent food. An ideal mixture of ingredients to spent a week and enjoy everything this land has to offer. What about Modern Art…only one museum in Ljublana the MG+MSUM in the museum quarter, which has a nice contemporary art collection. But only 1 block away there is something which is not listed in the guides. A free haven of artists, living and working on approx. 2 ha and functioning like a small community. Paintings and sculptures everywhere and a great place to visit and absorb. Pictures tell a better story than words so i put some photos i took, with this blog. For Modern Art lovers this is not to be missed. So walk away from the centre canal to the North east ( about 15 minutes) and visit this place.