On July 1st, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara opened a new solo exhibition from Barry McGee for the summer. I have to say Barry’s shows never disappoint. This specific installation by the San Francisco artist fills the entire museum which is basically one large room and it’s a sensory overload of paintings, sculptures, photos, and personal ephemera of the artist. The attention to detail in each work and the seeming chaos of how the individual works are paired together create new experiences with each run through the floor.
As they say, a picture says a thousand words, so I’ll shut up now and put up my pictures. Enjoy!
The show closes on October 14th, so if you’re in the area, it’s a must-see.
We had a post last March about Invader’s (@invaderwashere) museum show at Le Musee en Herbe through friends of the blog, but last month we got a chance to visit the beautiful city of Paris for the full experience ourselves. Even better, while exploring the city, we ran into dozens of invasions by the maestro to see what an ambitious endeavor the artist is carrying out around the world, but especially in his hometown of Paris. Please enjoy the photos and our thoughts on the show.
Space Invader may be the only street artist in the world that could exhibit in a children’s museum while still maintaining his street cred and not feel out of place. His whole artistic manifesto seems to be an invitation to embrace our nostalgia and never stop exploring. I knew that Paris was ground zero for Invader’s tiled invasions, and so I could not help but to keep my eyes open and high up to make sure I didn’t miss any. Instead of being on my phone (unless I was playing Flash Invaders!!!) or looking in a travel guide to see where to go next, we wandered the city on foot and followed people into small alleys and large plazas looking for the next invasion waiting for us around the corner. This newest show by Invader called Hello My Game Is… is no different in its mindset.
The show is for children as much as it is for adults. For children, it is full of wonderment and cartoon characters transformed into forms that are not quite right but still very familiar. It’s simply fun and accessible. It’s art without the pretense. For adults, it is a chance to share with our children the superheroes and characters that we idolized and what they meant for us when we were their age. For those without children yet, it’s a chance to be a kid again, kneeled on the floor putting coins into an arcade game machine to play Pong and Pac-Man.
Le Musee En Herbe is a children’s museum made up of 4 small rooms. When I did my first walkthrough I was disappointed that it was so small and that there were not as many Invaders on the walls as I had hoped, but I actually ended up spending 3 hours in it exploring every piece in the show. It’s an intimate setting and it worked better this way. I’m sure that’s exactly how Invader intended it to be.
The show is also super interactive. In the first room, there are 5 old-school arcade game machines from Pong and Pac-Man to Tetris. The games are free to play and almost always occupied by someone. The nostalgia I felt as I squatted down to play the games was overwhelming, but I didn’t remember it being so uncomfortable kneeling in front of an arcade game. I guess I’ve grown a few inches since elementary school. In the second room, there is a control station with many buttons and as you push on each, the large projection screen will display a corresponding image of a past invasion around the world and also light up a red dot next to a replica of it displayed on the wall. In the last room there is a large section on a wall where you can create your own tiled invasions using colored magnets. Kids really got into it here making Minions and other weird creatures.
Invader’s message to attendees of the show is simple. “Have fun, stay for as long as you want, but while you’re here forget about anything else.” The fact that a street artist of such notoriety was invited to show at a children’s museum in Paris is a sign of how far along the genre has come. Being prominently featured in Banksy’s mockumentary Exit Through the Gift Shop probably didn’t hurt either. Regardless, this is a street artist that is breaking laws everywhere he goes putting up his works on walls that do not belong to him. With this show, Invader transcended street art and is clearly blazing his own path.
If you visit the show in person, don’t forget to pick up some stickers from the vending machine! You never know what you’ll get.
Although Kerry James Marshall’s Los Angeles leg of the touring retrospective came to an end on July 3rd, I’ve put my highlights from the show above. There are far more knowledgeable people on the artist and his history to explain the show to you guys than me, so below are links to check out. And I’m a bit lazy to write today…
Since the museum opened in late 2015, the Broad has been regularly putting on new exhibitions and quietly rotating works on the 3rd floor walls, which contain a part of the permanent Broad Collection. Currently, an installation titled Creature is on view on the 1st floor galleries. The works presented in the show are directly from the museum’s collection, but loosely center around a theme of man and animal as physical amalgamations of fear, sex, vanity, and experiences. The theme is vague enough that the curators of the show probably a lot of fun picking out their favorite pieces for the show. Broad favorites like Takashi Murakami (@takashipom), Damien Hirst, and George Condo are well represented.
The installation is on view until Sunday, March 19th, at the Broad Museum.
Over the years, the one-time street artist KAWS has given the KAWS treatment to many familiar pop icons. His first ever foray into popular culture saw the birth of his Companion in the visage of Mickey Mouse.
In the last few years, we’ve seen everything from Spongebob to Snoopy given the crossed out eyes in his paintings and sculptures.
Well, it looks like the artist has found his newest muse as revealed in The Creators’s exclusive preview of his first museum show in the UK simply titled KAWS. The show will be on display from February 6th to June 12th at the Longside Gallery of Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Takashi Murakami: 500 Arhats at Mori Art Museum is Takashi Murakami’s first major solo exhibition in Japan in 14 years since the show at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in 2001. Despite being a Japanese artist and producing his works in Japan, Murakami has not been an active participant of Japanese contemporary art. Majority of his works are found in foreign museums and private collections, mostly in Europe and US with Middle East and China quickly catching up, but market in Japan for Murakami’s work is described as “nearly non-existent”. This could most likely be attributed to the artist’s ambivalence to the role of Japanese contemporary art in the global context, which meant that Murakami has heavily focused on showing his work to an international audience outside of his home country.
So why return to Japan to show his most ambitious painting to date? The curator of the show Miki Akiko offers several possible reasons: Murakami had a deep respect for the late founder of Mori Art Museum, Minoru Mori, who devoted his life to a single vision of building Tokyo into the burgeoning city we know now. In that sense, Mori and Murakami were cut from the same cloth. Another reason might be that this show is a big “f-you” to the Japanese critics who never really considered him to be of importance. Conversely, it is also a big “thank you” to the 300+ young staff of his studio that collaborated with the artist to complete this huge project in less than a year. But most importantly, it is a word of encouragement to the Japanese people that suffered so greatly during the 2011 Tohoku tsunami and earthquakes and a warning siren to carefully consider new nuclear plant plans and prepare for future natural disasters.
Although there are 40 new paintings and sculptures from the artist on display, as the title of the show suggests, the main event is the 100 meter wide painting, The 500 Arhats. The painting was started just shortly before the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 and first displayed in an incomplete form in Qatar as a show of gratitude to the nation that promptly came to the aid of Japan in the wake of the disaster.
The 500 Arhats are Buddha’s enlightened disciples, the equivalent of saints in Christianity, and are believed to possess supernatural powers and able to heal 500 different types of suffering. In addition to the arhats, the painting includes 4 creatures of Chinese myth that preside over each of the cardinal directions: Blue Dragon in the east, Whiter Tiger in the west, Vermillion Bird in the south, and Black Tortoise in the north.
The studio system that Murakami has optimized over the last two decades is just as interesting as the painting itself. His 9000m2 studio space had to be renovated to fit 50m sections of The 500 Arhats painting. Over 200 art university students were recruited from across the country, similar to how Japanese talent scouts discover new idol singers. The staff were then divided into shifts that spanned the full 24 hours per day. The days started with radio calisthenics exercises and morning meetings to confirm the daily work schedules for each artist/worker. Workflows and maps of placements of each of the 4000 silk screens to be applied to the painting were developed. Research teams collected over 100 file books of material on each of the 500 arhats, mythical creatures, monsters, and background motifs. Of course, every element to be included in the work was personally drawn or approved by the artist himself. Some may criticize his efficient studio system as being a product of greed, but it is more likely a result of the artist’s desire to have more time to devote to fine-tuning the details.
Please click on the thumbnails above to see much larger images of the 500 Arhats. The images were photographed section by section and stitched together in Photoshop, but they are no substitute for standing in front of the painting and admiring the awe-inspiring and painstaking details that Takashi Murakami included in each square-inch of the panels.
Can you spot all the 500 arhats?
The two videos below should give a better spatial sense of the enormity of The 500 Arhats.