The Figure in Contemporary Art: Miscellaneous Round-Up.


From Jon Rafman’s series The 9 Eyes of Google Street View, Berwick Rd. Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, which was on view as part of the exhibit Free, at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, until late this last January.

Last month, I launched a semi-regular series devoted to the way the human figure is depicted in contemporary art. This month, I continue it by looking at a number of works I’ve seen recently in museums, galleries and even on the street.

I want to begin this particular round-up with a look at Jon Rafman’s work, which is pictured above, and explores, among other things, the nature of travel. Rafman has ‘traveled’ the world through Google Street View and brought back the screen shots to prove it. This series along with the rest of the show, raised a lot of questions about the future of our online lives: Namely, will we eventually experience art, travel, and relationships exclusively online? How will the virtual experience differ from real-life? How is our view of other people colored by the internet? Certainly, we’re still figuring out the answers to some of those questions. But Rafman’s found imagery speaks to the abilities as well as the limitations of the web.

Find other images after the jump. All photos by me unless otherwise noted.



Presenting the longest suicide ever: All of My Problems Are Water Based (Tree), by Friedrich Kunath, at Andrea Rosen Gallery. Kunath’s installation is well crafted and nicely incorporates the notion of time into the work, but ultimately is a one-liner.


Found Identities: Backyard, 2011, by Jonathan Chapline. I saw this series at Curbs and Stoops during Beat Nite in Bushwick. These large (32″ x 56″), dark, Gerhard Richter-like charcoal drawings have an intense feeling of an eerie and forgotten past. (Image courtesy of Chapline.)


Graffiti has always fascinated me because of its accessibility, its potential for complete artistic freedom (if you don’t get caught), the exciting possibilities of making art for something other than a sterile gallery, and for its organic nature. If this photograph was hung on a gallery wall instead of on the corner of Grand and Berry in Williamsburg, I would walk right by, yet because of it’s unexpected location on the street it seems much more powerful. It’s difficult to tell if the “THINK!” and the “EARLGREYHOUND ROCKS!” are an original part of the piece or whether they might be later additions by other taggers (my guess is the latter). But that’s what makes it interesting: when the art is anonymous and illegal, where does a piece really stop and start?


Dan McCarthy’s
Mi, from 2010, at The Journal Gallery. This was part of a show titled Calvary, which consisted of cartoonishly-painted  faces with varying expressions hung in creative and sculptural manners.

One comment

  1. Art Aficionado

    I love your insight regarding the power of graffiti, the artistic freedom that anonymity provides. I think I am going to tag something in the near future. a guten tag.

    The penguin stencilist has been striking with greater frequency. And CHOKE may have some new ones. But otherwise pretty quiet in this city.