Monday, June 16, 2008

Tony Shafrazi

Tony Shafrazi's new exhibition "Who's Afraid of Jasper Johns" is being called a must see.

Shafrazi is the artist who was arrested in 1974 for walking into the MoMA, yelling "call the curator! i am an artist!", and spray-painting the words "KILL LIES ALL" on the Guernica. The famous Picasso work had a protective coating on and was cleaned immediately, so no permanent damage was done. The menace-to-art curators was escorted out of the MoMA in handcuffs, charged with criminal mischief, and sentenced to five-years of probation. In 1980 Shafrazi told Art in America:

I wanted to bring the art absolutely up to date, to retrieve it from art history and give it life. Maybe that's why the Guernica action remains so difficult to deal with. I tried to trespass beyond that invisible barrier that no one is allowed to cross; I wanted to dwell within the act of the painting's creation, get involved with the making of the work, put my hand within it and by that act encourage the individual viewer to challenge it, deal with it and thus see it in its dynamic raw state as it was being made, not as a piece of history.
Tony Shafrazi opened a studio in the 1980s frequented by Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, and Donald Baechler. His last exhibition was titled "four friends" and featured works by the four artists.

NYTimes Writes:
Every square inch of Shafrazi's “Four Friends” show photographed: not only paintings, frames and their shadows, but also blank walls, windows, ceilings, views through various doorways and the gallery’s two guards. Shafrazi then converted the images into trompe l’oeil wallpaper that, meticulously applied, lines the gallery with a same-size simulacrum of itself, which enables “Four Friends” to stay in place while a second show is installed on top of it.

Read more about "Who's Afraid of Jasper Johns" at the NYTimes.

The exhibition is an early contender for Gallery Group Show of the Year. Showing through July 12th at Shafrazi's Chelsea Gallery (544 West 26th Street, 212.274.9300)


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