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Tuesday 11.21.06

« Tom Cramer at Laura Russo | Main | Holidays Are For...Applying! »

Existentialism, Advertising and Toast?

I noticed this same thing and I enjoyed how the Nissan ad defanged "Breadface" by making it a leisurely piece of toast in a chair. Let's face it (oh endless puns?), an endpiece for a loaf of bread by itself is more existential than toast... but I never would have thought about that except for Nissan's approximation of Matt Johnson's art. Also, Tyler cracks me up with his, "How hipster! How clever! Because gosh, who wouldn't want to live out of a mid-level Japanese car?" The hipster cars in Portland tend to be old biodiesel ready Mercedes, any Volvo but a brand new one, Ford Festivas and the ever popular "no car" ride a bike/Max train option. So, unless Nissan can make an old European automobile they ain't gonna hit this demographic.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 21, 2006 at 11:22 | Comments (5)


Johnson's "Breadface" always struck me as a logo without a brand, anyway. Others tried to convince me that it was better than that, because "Breadface" is a totally convincing trompe l'oiel sculpture and not just a photograph. I wonder if these same people ever stop to consider that the image on the box of Corn Flakes is a photograph of a sculpture, too.

Posted by: jerseyjoe [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2006 11:51 AM

interesting point, I think most "signature" works that break an artist's career are in essence gypsy logos without a brand... that end up becoming a defacto logo for that artist.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2006 05:19 PM

You're probably right about gypsy logos. Jasper Johns broke with "Flag", Koons broke with "Equilibrium Tank" and "Bunny", Duchamp first broke with "Bride Stripped Bare" and again with "Fountain", Bicycle Wheel" and a dozen similar pieces,, Warhol with the soup cans, and Richard Prince with "Spiritual America".

Johnson's "Breadface" works simply on an AH-HA level, that's not more or less interesting than Picasso's daughter's leaves with faces or anything done by David Shrigley over the last 10 years.

What makes Johns, Prince, Koons, Duchamp, and Warhol's pieces work is that in addition to the AH-HA, there is a WTF?, and a "How am I supposed to feel about this?".

Posted by: jerseyjoe [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2006 11:17 PM

I suspect you are right about Johnson but I don't want to rush to judgement on him. Ill keep the door open a crack... Sure, Breadface seems too simple... but so did "Fountain." Ive seen a bit of his work and he comes off as consistent and rigorous trickster... like Tom Friedman or Martin Creed but a bit drier.

This is what Jerry Saltz had to say: http://www.villagevoice.com/art/0414,saltz2,52394,13.html a few years ago. Even that was funny.

Maybe Breadface isn't the gypsy logo akin to "Fountain" but it might be similar to Nude Descending a Staircase... which was derivative drivel but important none the less because it put Duchamp on the map.

So let's wait and see if Johnson can move on past Breadface... which is good if not all that original.

In my mind Johnson seems to be a better version of Portland's Brad Adkins... another aesthete who is also struggling with the influence of Creed/Friedman as pole stars. Mind you I like some of Brad's work (balloons, bottles, tape... freeing the kittens too) but unlike Johnson he also presents some really hackneyed stuff that wouldn't survive a good MFA critique (typically by trying way too hard). In contrast, Johnson has had several successful and very sustained solo shows.

Both Johnson and Adkins (and thousands of others in the Friedman/Creed wake) need to distinguish themselves even more. The rigour of Johnson makes him an odds on favorite.... maybe 100 to 1 that he will surpass Creed and Friedman by differentiating his game a little bit more. Maybe Adkins just needs a little more pressure, he's made great strides since his 1st and only true solo show at Powells. As one person said to me, "if only he'd just stop sucking up so much." He is very aware of his audience, maybe to the point of hurting the overall trajectory of his work now.

Does the same hold for Johnson too? Does he suck up too much to the crafty+witty paradigm set up by Creed and Friedman?

BTW I love Tom Friedman's work but I'm getting slightly annoyed with it's omnipresence while reveling in the respite it provides from its clones. A trend that is on its last legs?

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2006 10:05 AM

matt's work is great, and i don't really think that bread face is thought of as his best work, but perhaps his most photogenic (and therefore, most widely seen). his endless ice sculpture is great, as is plastic sculpture. i've hung out with him a couple times at the 'uncertain states of america' shows and he is pretty down to earth as well, and i think he is like 27 years old- a whiper-snaper.

Posted by: mattmc [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 24, 2006 09:18 PM

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