Artwork: Lisa Anne Auerbach. Take this Knitting Machine and Shove It, 2009. Inkjet print, 20 x 40 inches. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. © Lisa Anne Auerbach, courtesy of the artist and Gavlak Gallery, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA.
The month of August is the best time to lay back and chill, as everyone takes a few days off before autumn rushes you back to work or school. It’s a wonderful time to get back to basics and enjoy life on its own terms, free from the stresses of daily life that grind on your nerves.
A new two-year study out of the UK just released in late July, shows that looking at and making art can improve one’s health. Titled “Creative Health: The arts for Health and Wellbeing,” the nearly 200-page study reveals that art helped people suffering from depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Because, let’s face it, art can connect you with the essence of life, the timeless energies that restore, replenish, and inspire. With this in mind, Crave has curated a selection of five must-see exhibitions opening this month that are entertain, enlighten, and inform in equal measure.
Tom Sanford: 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall
Long before you drank you first beer, you knew this song by heart, and you might have wondered what kind of person would amass such a large collection of liquor. In the age of micro-brews, stouts, ales, lagers, and pilsners, beer has risen to new heights—and artist Tom Sanford celebrates the drink with 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, a new exhibition of paintings on view at Gitler &_____, New York, from August 2–30, 2017.
Here, Sanford reveals just how friendly and familiar the long-neck bottles become, as his paintings transform these inanimate objects into familiar friends. His paintings remind us just how deep these relationships are, as each beer becomes more than a mere bottle and, like Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, transforms into an icon in its own right. So next time you crack open a cold one just remember: this is more than a drink; this is art.
Richard Avedon: Avedon’s America
“A portrait isn’t a fact but an opinion—an occasion rather than a truth,” the great American photographer Richard Avedon (1923-2004) observed. The man responsible for defining the look of his native land throughout the twentieth century was well-aware of our complex relationship to the still image.
Understanding, “My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph,” his life’s work is transformed into an autobiography without words, showing us his thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and ideas. Avedon’s America, which will be on view at Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY, from August 12 through October 9, 2017, is a study in the artist’s view of the nation during a period of upheaval that brought forth the world in which we live.
Featuring 50 portraits of leading figures of the era including Malcolm X, Janis Joplin, and William F. Buckley, Avedon takes us to the present moment, with portraits of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. As we gaze upon the faces of those who have shaped our world, Avedon’s words resonate all the more: “My photographs don’t go below the surface. They don’t go below anything. They’re readings of the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues.”
The O.J. Simpson Museum
Athlete turned anti-hero O.J. Simpson is the quintessential American icon: the perfect mix of celebrity and criminal whose actions are no longer that of a single individual but rather emblematic of the nation’s pathologies on every front. He has transformed from man to myth, and he’s not even dead yet.
In that way, a museum in his honor would only be fitting in light of being granted parole in late July, after serving a nine -year bid for armed robbery. But it isn’t just his parole that has him back in the news; last year two TV series, The People v/ O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and O.J.: Made in America brought his notorious case back into the spotlight, two decades after he has exonerated for the murder of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
Now, Adam Papagan, creator of The O.J. Tour, is curating The O.J. Simpson Museum, a temporary exhibit at Coagula Curatorial Gallery, Los Angeles, on view August 18-22, 2017. The exhibition features dozens of artifacts, original artwork, and a 1994 white Ford Bronco recently purchased with funds from a recent crowdfunding campaign, to showcase the kitsch that kept Simpson in the headlines the better part of his adult life—and revealing the deeply American impulse to capitalize on notoriety, no matter the cost.
Marshall Arisman: An Artist’s Journey From Dark to Light, 1972–2017
You’ve been gazing upon the artwork of Marshall Arisman for years as you stand in line at the supermarket check-out counter, looking at this week’s cover stories on top news magazines. Perhaps you spotted his painting of Darth Vader for TIME, or took notice of his illustration of Adolf Hitler for US News & World Report. So often art surrounds us but we rarely think of it. Now, the School of Visual Arts, New York, honors Arisman with a 45-year retrospective.
Marshall Arisman: An Artist’s Journey from Dark to Light, 1972–2017, presents paintings, sculptures, etchings, editorial illustrations, and short films at the SVA Chelsea Gallery, from August 19 through September 30, 2017. Arisman’s works are intense, embracing the good and evil impulses of human nature in equal part. His life’s work was shaped by his grandmother, a psychic and a medium, who advised Arisman to live his life “in the space between angels and demons.”
The works are not for the faint of heart, as firing-squad executions, suicides, and monsters sit beside sacred animals and guardian spirits. Arisman’s journey to the light is as much a testament of the power of salvation through the creative process as it is a reminder of how easily it is to slip into darkness, so brutal is the nature of existence..
This Is Not a Selfie: Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection
George Orwell poignantly observed, “Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.” He could just as well have been speaking of the self-portrait, a long-standing tradition in the visual arts in which the creator presents his or her face to the world, laying to bare not just how they look, but how they see themselves.
What distinguishes the self portrait from the selfie is the amount of truth being told, the level of risk being taken, and the willingness to separate the self from the ego. Because the artist inherently sees the world through a critical lens, by no means, does s/he feel a need to hide from themselves.
This Is Not a Selfie: Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection celebrates the tradition of the self-portrait in its most glorious forms. Organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the exhibition opens at the San Jose Museum of Art, CA, on August 25, 2017 and runs through January 14, 2018.
Here you can see the greats as they see themselves, including Crave faves Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Danny Lyon, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Andy Warhol, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Vik Muniz, Yves Klein, and Helmut Newton—to name just a few. So next time you feel the urge to take a photograph of yourself, consider if you might want to go beyond the superficialities that have made the selfie a cliché, and enter the realm of the artist, where the unknown exists…
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.