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From the outset, he was blatantly fraudulent. Reeking of unabashed insincerity, he cannibalised every -ism he encountered, chewed it up and joyfully spit it back into the faces of the establishment. David Bowie used to say that he wasn’t really a rock star, but an actor playing a rock star. The same could be said for Picabia: he played the role of an artist, producing an oeuvre of spectacular fakeness—fake Cubism, fake Surrealism, fake Social Realism, fake Romanticism, and finally, in his last works, fake Dadaism. For a half century, Picabia brilliantly trolled the art world. Everything he did was purposefully “wrong.”
Krazy Kat has been described as a parable of love, a metaphor for democracy, a “surrealistic” poem, unfolding over years and years. It is all of these, but so much more: it is a portrait of America, a self-portrait of Herriman, and, I believe, the first attempt to paint the full range of human consciousness in the language of the comic strip. Like the America it portrays, Herriman’s identity has been poised for a revision for many decades now. Michael Tisserand’s new biography Krazy does just that, clearing the shifting sands and shadows of Herriman’s ancestry, the discovery in the early 1970s of a birth certificate which described Herriman as “colored” sending up a flag among comics researchers and aficionados. Tisserand confirms what for years was hiding in plain sight in the tangled brush of Coconino County, Arizona, where Krazy Kat is supposedly set: Herriman, of mixed African-American ancestry, spent his entire adult life passing as white. He had been born in the African-American neighborhood of racially mixed, culturally polyglot 1880s New Orleans, but within a decade Herriman’s parents moved George and his three siblings to the small but growing town of Los Angeles to escape the increasing bigotry and racial animosity of postbellum Louisiana. The Herrimans melted into California life, and it was there that George, with brief professional spates in New York, would remain for the rest of his life.
2732: Steve DiBenedetto
Novelty Mapping Picnic
Cherry and Martin is proud to present a solo exhibition of new, densely layered oil-on-canvas paintings by Steve DiBenedetto.
Steve DiBenedetto’s intensely worked canvases explore painting in the Post Modern world. His process, a sometimes-combative approach that can last many years, has a ferocity to it. DiBenedetto’s paintings drip with energy and the liquid materiality of oil and pigment. They ram together pattern, line, color and imagery with seemingly both abandon and calculated intent.
DiBenedetto speaks of his work as a very compressed expressionism: a meticulous, yet agitated kind of painting. In his work, boundaries become uncertain. Multiple layers of paint create hallucinogenic scenes held together by webs and tendrils. DiBenedetto’s encrusted surfaces display a fascination with assertive color; they organically merge surface and structure into a sometimes plaintive, sometimes exuberant whole.
Critics have described DiBenedetto’s works as depicting invented, science fiction-infused environments, which grapple with the overwhelming abundance of information now present in our lives. Other critics, like New York Times-writer Martha Schwendener, have described DiBenedetto’s work as truly “phenomenal,” placing it in a context with that of artists like Philip Guston. Schwendener adds that as artworks, “The paintings’ layered and distressed surfaces lends them an aura of history and authority, like archaeological objects.”
DiBenedetto’s recent solo exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, CT) interspersed texts by writers like J. G. Ballard, Thomas Pynchon and William Blake alongside his paintings. One area held a collection of ephemera — works on paper, photographs, books, album covers and other materials — culled from the artist’s studio. As an artist who has revitalized the landscape of contemporary painting, DiBenedetto’s work was included in the major exhibition, “Remote Viewing: Invented Worlds in Recent Painting and Drawing,” (2005, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY). The show was curated by Elisabeth Sussman, and placed DiBenedetto’s work alongside friends and peers like Franz Ackermann, Carroll Dunham, Julie Mehretu, Matthew Ritchie, Alexander Ross, and Terry Winters.
Steve DIBENEDETTO’s most recent solo exhibition, “Evidence of Everything,” was at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, CT) from November 2015 through April 2016. DiBenedetto’s work has been included in such solo and group museum exhibitions as “Remote Viewing” Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY); “Curious Crystals of Unusual Purity” PS1 Contemporary Art Center (Long Island City, NY); “Le Consortium Collection” Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France); “Slow Art” PS1 Contemporary Art Center (Long Island City, NY); “Embracing Modernism: Ten Years of Drawings Acquisitions” Morgan Library & Museum (New York, NY); “Portrait de l’artiste en motocycliste,” MAGASIN-Centre National d’art Contemporain de Grenoble (Grenoble, France); “Einfach Kunst, Sammlung Rolf Ricke” Neuen Museum (Nurnberg, Germany); “Sieben New Yorker Maler” Kunstverein Museum Schloss Morsbroich (Leverkusen, Germany); “Nachtschattengewaschse-The Nightshade Family” Museum Fridericianum (Kassel, Germany); “Inaugural Exhibition” Museum of Contemporary Art (Geneva, Switzerland). DiBenedetto’s work is included in such public collections as Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA); Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY); and Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY). DiBenedetto lives and works in New York.
Cherry and Martin’s 2732 space is open Tuesday - Saturday 11am-5pm and by appointment. For images or more information please contact the gallery at 310-559-0100, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RIP John Berger
Lee Lozano (pdf)