about the exhibition
Jonathan Monk: Rew-Shay Hood Project Part II
May 14–September 06, 2009about the artist
Berlin-based artist Jonathan Monk is at the forefront of a generation of artists who have appropriated American conceptual art of the 1960s and 1970s to create contemporary projects that deal with reception and re-presentation. His works inhabit a diverse range of media, from photography and sculpture to film and installation, where the artist, the art market, the creative process, and art's dictum of originality collide. Monk's borrowing of iconic contemporary works of art has a Duchampian resonance, where serious questions about innovation and authorship are often staged with a sense of humor or irony.
Monk was born in Leicester, England in 1969. He graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 1991. His work is currently on view in solo exhibitions at Casey Kaplan, New York, NY; Lisson Gallery, London, England; and Specific Object, New York, NY. He is currently included in a group exhibition titled Compass in Hand: Selections from the Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Monk's numerous solo exhibitions include, Musee d'art Moderne, Paris, France (2008); Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover, Germany, travelled to Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland; Kunsthalle Nurnberg, Germany; and Leriterin Haus am Waldsee, Berlin Germany (2006-07). Recent group exhibitions include: Ready-made, Yvon Lambert Gallery, New York, NY (2007-08); and Arte Povera Now and Then (Perspectives for a New Guerilla Art), Esso Gallery, New York, NY (2007).
about the exhibition
Monk's Artpace exhibition, Rew-Shay Hood Project Part II, consists of a series of airbrushed car hoods featuring images borrowed from Ed Ruscha's artist book Twentysix Gasoline Stations. By re-presenting the book-based photographs in sculptural form, Monk transforms the former small scale of the images into something monumental. Moreover, each hood has its own particular shape, lending the work a sculptural physicality absent in the original. Finally, the photomechanical original becomes painterly in the airbrushed hoods, making them softer and more delicate than Ruscha's project.
Twentysix Gasoline Stations was originally published in 1963 and is considered by many to be the first artist's book. The book features Ruscha's photographs of gas stations located along Route 66 between Los Angeles and Oklahoma City. Released in three separate editions totaling 3900 books (with the first edition priced at $3.50 each), the work epitomizes many of the tenets of Pop Art, presenting popular imagery as fine art, and introducing the role of mass-production as an artistic device.
By transferring Ruscha's photographic works onto American car hoods, Monk situates the gas station series within the context of current events. The machine-fabricated hoods are a direct link to the assembly-line history of today's troubled automotive industry, an industry that in turn was celebrated through iconic imagery of the Pop era. The history of Artpace also comes into play, for its original use was as a Hudson automobile dealership.
In celebrating the great brands of muscle car manufacturing, such as Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, and Plymouth, Monk's project unwittingly sounds the death knell of the trade. What were once beacons of American competitiveness, ingenuity, and strength have now come to represent extravagance, wastefulness, and a bygone time when driving was as much entertainment as it was practicality. Seen within this context, Monk's project is homage to the near-extinct modern exploration of the American frontier-the road trip-a journey now more often taken in planes and buses than in individual vehicles. It is as though the Pop artists of the 1960s were predicting the demise of consumer culture and today Monk is picking up the pieces, connecting the dots between Ruscha's romantic landscapes and the failure of American consumerism and the energy industry.