Art / 29 Oct 2018

Story | Phillips

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was the leading exponent of the Pop Art movement in the U.S. in the 1960s. Following an early career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol achieved fame with his revolutionary series of silkscreened prints and paintings of familiar objects, such as Campbell's soup tins, and celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe.

Warhol's famous image of Marilyn Monroe was a still from the film noir horror Niagra, produced in 1953. Warhol started work on the Marilyn series three days after the actress died.
Obsessed with popular culture, celebrity and advertising, Warhol created his slick, seemingly mass-produced images of everyday subject matter from his famed Factory studio in New York City. His use of mechanical methods of reproduction, notably the commercial technique of silk screening, wholly revolutionized art-making.
Working as an artist, but also director and producer, Warhol produced a number of avant-garde films in addition to managing the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founding Interview magazine. A central figure in the New York art scene until his untimely death in 1987.
Warhol was notably also a mentor to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The contemporary artist George Condo was one of many studio assistants in Andy Warhol's New York Factory. He worked at the Factory for nine months and described it as his first, and last, real job.


Basquiat's Untitled, 1982, achieved $110.5 million at auction, making it the most expensive work to be sold by an American artist

One of the most famous American artists of all time, Jean-Michel Basquiat first gained notoriety as a subversive graffiti-artist and street poet in the late 1970s. Operating under the pseudonym SAMO, he emblazoned the abandoned walls of the city with his unique blend of enigmatic symbols, icons and aphorisms.
A voracious autodidact, by 1980, at 22-years of age, Basquiat began to direct his extraordinary talent towards painting and drawing. His powerful works brilliantly captured the zeitgeist of the 1980s New York underground scene and catapulted Basquiat on a dizzying meteoric ascent to international stardom that would only be put to a halt by his untimely death in 1988.
Basquiat's iconoclastic oeuvre revolves around the human figure. Exploiting the creative potential of free association and experience, he created deeply personal, often autobiographical, images by drawing liberally from such disparate fields as urban street culture, music, poetry, Christian iconography, African-American and Aztec cultural histories and a broad range of art historical sources.

Carlos Cruz-Diez:

Luminous Reality by Carlos Cruz-Diez is new selling exhibition program for Phillips, which continues this investigation by focusing on one of the key pioneers at the intersection of light, color and art. Carlos Cruz-Diez is often called a master of color, but we might also call him a master of light. Indeed, color as Cruz-Diez conceives of it does not entail pigment on canvas, but rather color as the perceptual phenomenon of light.
One of the most striking aspects of Cruz-Diez's legendary artistic career has been the profound determination with which he has pursued his core color investigations over the past six decades. It was in 1959 in Venezuela that Cruz-Diez had his "color"-in motion epiphany when he initiated the seminal Physichromie series. Acting akin to "light traps," these two-dimensional structures consist of various strips of color placed parallel or at right angles to each other at interspersed levels. In lieu of a colored plane or surface, color blended in the viewer's retina, changing according to the viewer's movement and the intensity of light. Revealing the fluctuating circumstances and conditions of perceiving color, the Physichromie put forth a visual paradigm for much of Cruz-Diez's ensuing practice that assured his reputation as one of the key protagonists in the field of kinetic and optical art.

“Art is a complex structure of communication, expression, discovery and invention.” — Carlos Cruz-Diez

By the beginning of the 1960s, Cruz-Diez had settled in Paris where avant-garde artistic circles provided a fertile ground for his studio practice, where he came up the idea of the Chromosaturation. Cruz-Diez took the revolutionary step of projecting color into constructed environments. In doing so, he essentially separated color from form and abstracted it into an immersive environment.
The Environment Chromointerférent series, 1974-2018, invites viewers to enter a three-dimensional chromatic experience into which rays of multi-colored light are projected across surfaces and participants. As the rays of light intersect on the walls and the visitor's bodies, a range of color interferences appear - the resulting displacement of striped patterns, in turn, generate waves of movement. Closely related to these environments are Cruz-Diez's emblematic Chromosaturation works, a series which immerses viewers into a luminous cocoon composed of a red, green and blue color chamber. Cruz-Diez realized his first Chromosaturation in 1968, the same year as Flavin filled an entire gallery with ultraviolet light at the Documenta 4 in Kassel and Turrell was experimenting with light projections some 9,000 km away.
Despite conceptual and concurrent developments in light art, there is an important sensibility to Cruz-Diez's unique work that sets it apart. Cruz-Diez always maintained the centrality of public participation in his works, a concern that refers back to the political and aesthetic debates he experienced in Venezuela during the 1940s and 1950s. Color, as a variable physical experience accessible to everyone, provided Cruz-Diez with the conduit to encourage a greater grasp of the instability and constant flux of reality. The Chromosaturation works, too, are based on the idea of the sensory experience of color, one that is universal to all people.
It is almost impossible to appropriately convey Cruz-Diez's amazing light spaces through photographic reproduction. They are tangible examples of the physicality of light acting on multiple levels beyond the object's abstract beauty. When they are experienced, vision is liberated from the burden of interpretation in favor of pure, all-encompassing sensory experience. Engagement with the work of art is no longer passive.