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Andrea Rosen Gallery: Tetsumi Kudo, Cubes and Gardens
Gallery 2 - Michael St. John, These days; Norman Rockwell
- 10 Sept 2010 to 16 Oct 2010

Current Exhibition

10 Sept 2010 to 16 Oct 2010

Andrea Rosen Gallery
525 West 24 Street
NY 10011
New York, NY
New York
North America
p: 212 627 6000
f: 212 627 5450

Tetsumi Kudo making Garden of the Metamorphosis in the Space Capsule, 1968 for the
exhibition Three Blind Mice/de Collecties: Visser, Peeters, Becht, Stedelijk Van
Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands. Photo: Van Den
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Andrea Rosen Gallery

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Artists in this exhibition: Tetsumi Kudo, Michael St. John

Tetsumi Kudo
Garden & Cubes
September 10 – October 16, 2010

Curated in collaboration with Joshua Mack
In cooperation with Hiroko Kudo and the estate of the artist

Gallery 2
Michael St. John
These days; Norman Rockwell
Part 2
September 10 – October 16, 2010

Tetsumi Kudo, Cubes and Gardens

September 10 – October 16, 2010
Opening Reception: September 10th, 6-8 pm

Curated in collaboration with Joshua Mack
With the gracious cooperation of Hiroko Kudo and the estate of the Artist
Text by Joshua Mack

No matter how, it is important to think about the relationship of polluted nature to the proliferation of electronics…the decomposition of humanity (humanism) and the old and traditional hierarchy of values. –Tetsumi Kudo, 1971

Not only did Tetsumi Kudo (1935-1990) – one of the most innovative artists in Japan in the 1950s and in France in the '60s and '70s – explore the existential possibilities for humanity in an increasingly polluted and consumption-driven world, issues critical in today's artistic practice and political debate; but in the two years since our last show and the major retrospective organized by the Walker Art Center, the wide-ranging and profound influence of his ideas and aesthetic has become increasingly clear. Mike Kelley wrote for the Walker catalog; Paul McCarthy has included Kudo in his lectures since 1968 and highlighted him as an influence in his intellectual autobiography Low Life Slow Life. Takashi Murakami, in seeing the last exhibition, has simply called Kudo, "the father of us all."

Built around major installations and definitive examples of Kudo's oeuvre secured from public and private collections in Europe and Japan, this exhibition will focus on two key groups of works, cubes and gardens, created in the decade after Kudo moved from Japan to Paris in 1962, and will elucidate the development of the artist's aesthetic and philosophical consideration of pollution, technology, and Western Humanism.

Designed as die, the cubes – made between 1962-1968 and sometimes stacked – are filled with store bought goods and household refuse like alarm clocks and egg cartons connected to, and often fusing with, plastic dolls and papier mâché body parts. Usually titled with variations of the words, "Your Portrait," these are meant as provocative representations of the European state of being: Individuals retreat into cocoons to take comfort in mass produced stuff and mediated entertainment. Within these shells, they undergo a process of metamorphosis becoming one with technology. The idea of individual agency at the core of Western Philosophy becomes false; people are subject to random forces beyond their control symbolized by Kudo's motif of dice.

This fusion is most evident in the centerpiece of the exhibition and one of the two most important works Kudo created, Garden of the Metamorphosis in the Space Capsule, 1968, a room-sized die equipped with UV light and designed as an environment for works which fluoresce in black light. Here, representations of molted skin – a metaphor for obsolete Humanist values – giant flowers, and wall-mounted and freestanding sculptures create an eerily seductive vision of man, nature, and technology as coequal and mutually dependent.

The Space Capsule also signals a shift in Kudo's work from cubes to gardens. In the latter, forms become more deformed and liquid; color more saturated. Visions of a New Ecology resulting from pollution and cultivation, these works marry meticulous artistic craftsmanship, mass produced objects and arch, in gorgeous color. They are thus, in themselves, aesthetic manifestations of the New Order. In 1971 Kudo proclaimed:

"I now prophesy the growth of the new ecology in the swamp of "polluted nature" and "decomposing humanity."
–Tetsumi Kudo, 1971

Tetsumi Kudo (b. 1935, Osaka, Japan) graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts in 1958. In 1957, he began exhibiting his work at the Salon of Independents, Yomiuri and had his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Blanche, Tokyo. In 1962, he moved to Paris thanks to the travel grant and Grand Prize awarded by the Second International Young Artist Exhibition, Tokyo. He spent 1962-1987 in Paris before returning to Tokyo, while exhibiting throughout Europe and Japan. Notable solo exhibitions include the Walker Art Center (October 2008); Andrea Rosen Gallery (June 2008); La Maison Rouge, Paris (2007); The National Museum of Art, Osaka (1994); The Van Reekum Museum, Apeldoorn and the Stedelijk Museum (1991). He has made appearances at the Venice Bienniale (1976) and also in landmark exhibitions such as, "Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky," (Guggenheim Museum, 1994); as well as,"Japon des avant-gardes 1910-1970," (Centre Georges Pompidou, 1986); and "Out of Action: Between Performance and the Object, 1949-1979," (LA MoCA, 1998). His work can be found in the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Musée Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Chiba City Art Museum, Kurashi City Art Museum, Aomori Museum of Art, the Stedelijk Museum, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Vienna, Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal, amongst others. Tetsumi Kudo died of cancer on November 12, 1990

Michael St. John
These Days; Norman Rockwell
Part 2

September 10 – October 16, 2010

For over 20 years Michael St. John has been creating an ever growing inventory of America's complicated, non-hierarchical and chaotic culture. St. John's work is a brutally honest portrait and yet ultimately suffused with an incredible sense of optimism. This complex juxtaposition of clarity and hope is what makes the work vulnerable, heart wrenching, and simultaneously attractive. It is clear to see St. John's influence, either inadvertently or directly, as a teacher and mentor on a younger generation of artists like Dan Colen, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Nate Lowman, and Josh Smith, to name a few.

The title of the exhibition, "These Days; Norman Rockwell Part 2," reflects how St. John's work operates between the twin axes of reality and idealism. "These Days" brings to mind the world weary lyrics of the Nico song of the same title while "Norman Rockwell" points to how this group of works, in its presentation of America, becomes almost perverse in its normality.

Eschewing spectacle, St. John's modestly scaled works highlight the power of everyday objects and images and insists on the cultural currency they can have. The objects and images St. John re-presents are at once banal in their ubiquity and yet made strange by the new contexts he provides for them. St. John's process mimics the evolution of culture itself. The life of the song "These Days"—written by Jackson Browne when he was a teenager, performed by Velvet Underground collaborator and Warhol muse Nico, given renewed prominence in the 2001 Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums—reflects the kind of constantly renewing and shape-shifting culture that St. John's work represents. With each iteration and representation the song accrues new meaning.

For St. John, the deep psychosis and trauma of American culture is not hidden but rather, very plainly in full view. In his own updated version of Richard Hamilton's 1956 collage "Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?," St. John seems to present the question, what kind of society simultaneously creates and desires an iPhone as well as accepts a Big Mac as actual food. As disturbing as it can be to see this collection and juxtaposition of contemporary consumer objects, St. John's reference to Hamilton's work from an earlier time reminds us how the veneer of history can begin to make anything seem as quaint and neutral as a Norman Rockwell and simultaneously calls into question the veracity of that neutrality.

The diversity of St. John's techniques and styles speaks not only to his facility as an artist but also to the ever expanding universe of images and products in the real world. The ideology of the gallery space with its purposeful removal of the real world from its walls makes St. John's injection of these images back into the gallery all the more striking. St. John's constellation of objects include a painted plaster sculpture of a bag titled "Swag" in the style of the formerly coveted though perhaps always gauche Takashi Murakami and Louis Vuitton collaboration, an extremely foreshortened oil on canvas painting of a gun pointed at the viewer, a polychromed cast plaster race head, a tromp l'oeil sculpture of a $1,000 bill titled "Untitled" (Escort Money), and collaged canvases of images from blogs.

St. John's work achieves the remarkable feat of being both incisive and direct in its political urgency while remaining compelling, mysterious, and without resorting to didacticism. Reflecting "a belief in reality as it exists," St. John's work holds a mirror to America "using all forms of re-presentation to commemorate/echo our time." St. John's work feels as necessary and essential to these days as the necessity he feels in making it: "I cannot think of making art not engaged with the living world at this time."

Michael St. John lives and works in Massachusetts and New York. This will be St. John's 10th solo exhibition in New York. He has also been included in numerous group exhibitions. Along with an extensive resume of curatorships, St. John has held numerous teaching positions including his position as an adjunct professor at New York University since 1994.

Press inquiries: For additional information and images please contact
Jessica Eckert,

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