And I thought, Wow, that’s saucy; that’s rather forward, cheeky, and assuming of them.’ Museums rarely have a sense of humor when it comes to marketing their exhibitions, so I was surprised, and pleasantly so, when I saw this. As far as I know, this phrase was only used in conjunction with the Disneyland exhibition.
Because we like you. Me? Little ol’ me? Was this written because everybody likes Disneyland? Was this written because they were pretending that everybody liked Disneyland but knowingly winking at us, saying we’re cool, we get it, you are educated members of the press, but we’re playing around, asking you to take this exhibition with a grain of salt, have fun with it, we get it?’ I don’t know! They might as well have included the phrase for the Frida exhibition. I’m pretty sure the people who received special invitations this time around would have felt particularly lucky for getting a personalized invitation to see Frida. (If anybody wants to organize a big Ed Ruscha show and send a card like that to me too, I’ll believe it.)
This week I found these posters used to market Andy Warhol: Supernova: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters 1962-1964 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Pretty smoking, with a touch of dry humor. The Art Gallery of Ontario got a special makeover for their version of this exhibition because David Cronenberg, a MOVIE DIRECTOR, was guest curating it. They also commissioned a soundtrack “ conceived and narrated” by Cronenberg, with commentary by Dennis Hopper, Amy Taubin, James Rosenquist, and Mary-Lou Green. Also, there were BONUS TRACKS.
And a promotional hearse!
This discovery made me think of this poster from 1964, an exhibition poster from Los Angeles’ Ferus Gallery:
Because We Like You. We’d Expect This From David Cronenberg, But From Warhol? As A Public Service. These taglines share a tone of fake-but-maybe-not-fake bravado, of a silly inside joke. The Warhol posters assume that its audience is familiar with both Cronenberg and Warhol, able to nod its head at the reference to soup cans and the ironic “delightful assortment of colors” joke. I started searching around for other exhibition posters that might have the same feel, but I didn’t know where to start. If anybody knows of any, please leave a comment, I’d be curious.
Switching directions to some degree, I’m now thinking of The Ferus Gallery and its image, not created solely for “The Studs” exhibition. Photos of the artists at the Ferus Gallery and its exhibition posters never made me feel negatively, instead, they drew me in. Here are a couple of photographs from The Men of the Ferus Gallery and Some Women Family Album:
This is not new territory for me; I wrote my senior thesis about Los Angeles and its artists in the 1960s, but I’m realizing again how much I wish there was some sort of group of cool-kid artists around today in the scheme of the bigger contemporary art market. The movie and television business has Judd Apatow and crew, Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney and friends, and the music biz has members from Broken Social Scene and Death Cab and Rilo Kiley moving around all the time, and basically everybody in hip-hop has a crew they consistently collaborate with. Even the writing profession has that hip and fun McSweeney’s crew. So where is the gang of fun-lovin’ artists? I am nostalgic for something I never lived through, that I only see pictorial evidence of.
The Ferus Gallery was the IT gallery of Los Angeles in the late 50s and early 60s. As “ it” as you could get: Los Angeles suffered, and continues to suffer, national neglect for its arts offerings. (Just read the last paragraph of this recent article about the Kara Walker show at the UCLA Hammer Museum; it broke my heart.) New York turns its blind eye to LA, instead choosing to see it as the combination of Hollywood and its extended vices, a cultures-less, road-congested sprawl that is, at the opposite end of the nation, the opposite of highbrow New York City.
Maybe this lack of pressure allowed these artists their “macho man” fun: politically incorrect and on the edge of good taste.
The most obvious “group” of artists I can think of in the past 20 years is that of the Young British Artists. Although most of them were schoolmates and many of them dated each other (not unlike the cliques in high school), instead of a group prepared to make fun of their overnight success and shock tactics, I imagine a room of them crawling all over each other, standing on each others shoulders, offering up their work to Saatchi, trying to be the most successful and knocking each other’s knees out in the process. (Especially Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.) It was not a cohesive group; it was not a loving group. It was a group bound together by the art market.
I know that there are plenty of groups of artist friends doing cool stuff all over the world but are only known locally. I am talking about the big leagues, the heavy-hitters – has it all become just much too serious?
I leave you with three images, the first, one of my favorite images of all time, a photo of Ed Ruscha by Dennis Hopper.
Andy Warhol by Dennis Hopper and Dennis Hopper by Andy Warhol. Two big guns, a merging of artistic worlds, hanging out, exchanging. Beautiful.
 Scans from WAC Archives. Thanks, Jill.
 Not smoking: picture quality….
 Unknown if album exists. Also, scans from 1960s Artforums and other old magazines.