Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Archive


About 8 years ago I was browsing in a bookstore and discovered Curiosa by Barton Lidice Benes. Subtitled Celebrity Relics, Historical Fossils, & Other Metamorphic Rubbish, this book was like a fascinating cabinet of curiosities and I bought it instantly. Benes is an American artist who has spent most of his life collecting things. But his collections are just left of ordinary. He doesn't just collect stamps or figurines. Instead his collection focuses on fragments of celebrity, politics, natural history, and culture which he then uses as material to create categorized assemblages, collages, and mini-museums.

Curiosa: Celebrity Relics, Historical Fossils, and Other Metamorphic Rubbish


Curiosa presents a series of these 'Museums' along with text from Benes which explains how he came upon many of the objects. The Museums are set up by category, with each item obsessively documented. In the Artists Museum he has 80 items, including Keith Haring's matches, Jean Michel Basquiat's paintbrush bristles, and Mark Rothko's necktie complete with paint splatters. Among the 72 items in the Food Museum is mold from Cindy Crawford's jam circa 1999, corn from a mummy's tomb circa 500 AD, and a plastic spoon used by Woody Harrelson circa 1994. The book also presents Museums of Celebrity, Death, Sharp, Shards, Hair, Reliquary, and more. Always fascinating, often disturbing, Benes' art and this book are one-of-a-kinds.

While gallery hopping last month, I went into one of my favorite galleries, Pavel Zoubok, and was excited to see that the exhibition, Archive, was a survey of Benes' work from the prior 20 years. Included were several of his Museums as well as other, mixed-media pieces. Benes creates with wit and whimsy as he catalogs the themes of our lives. Each of his works were individually enthralling. Together they made a fascinating Archive of the sometimes very bizarre world we live in.

Cojones.

Cojones. Detail.

Assuary

Music Box

Bernard Madoff

Jars


20 comments:

Lelainia N. Lloyd said...

My friend Penn owns this book and I've read it. I love all their sheer weirdness of it. It's wonderful. Cool that you got to see some in person!

notmassproduced said...

brilliant. You don't half find us some fabulous stuff to gawp at. lovin it.

MrCachet said...

LOL!!!! MAD-OFF - There's more than one twist in this piece, Seth. Great stuff!

Julie Prichard said...

I have that book..if you run across a copy- GRAB IT. A fantastic read.

Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

Oh man...one more book to look for. This is RIGHT UP my alley!
Thanks Seth!

XXOO~~
Anne

Lisa said...

very intriguing..shows what can happen when you just let go and forget the box...

jilly said...

Guess it goes to show just how far outside the box you can be while being inside the box. Thanks for this trip to the most unusual of museums!!

Jeb said...

This looks like a cool book!

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

I am going to check our library for this book...it looks wonderful. Inspiration deluxe for us all to fill our earthly vessels. Thank you, Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

ArtPropelled said...

Extraordinary!

Marit said...

Yet another inspiring post that gets my mojo flowing... what a wonderful artist! His 'museums' are stunning!!!

Dave said...

So all those jars in my basement filled with screws, and nails, and washers, and, and, and...are "collections"? Interesting perspective!

Lynn said...

Have to love the bernie madoff piece. just heard him speak from prison. What a deluded old man. Shame on him.
The rest of this is eye candy for sure!

Stephanie said...

I LOVE this!!! I am so very taken with the cabinet of curiosity...must see if I can find a copy.

thanks for letting me use your pics today

steph

Phoenix Peacock said...

How very cool and inspiring. I love oddities like that!

On a side note, I would be honored if you would take a look at a project and give it some consideration:
http://acommunityartproject.blogspot.com/2011/02/project.html

Lisa H said...

Apparently I collect empty bottles of nailpolish and lipstick tubes.
All by accident and my own.

Parabolic Muse said...

Cojones?! HA!
I have to say, when you bring these great works to my attention it renews my whole outlook about the seemingly endless possibilities of art and expression. I had never heard of Benes. I'm checking this out.

angryparsnip said...

Your post is quite interesting, weird, funny and wonderful all at once.

I also really enjoyed reading all the comment too. Several had me laughing.
especially Dave's and Lisa H.

cheers, parsnip

urbandon (Don Pezzano) said...

Thank god hoarders are now the 'normal' people.

MB Shaw said...

This is very interesting and now I think I want to buy the book!! When we were in Austin recently, we visited Uncommon Objects, a faboo store. The way that staged that store reinforces the idea that anything can be a collection - turtle shells, burned out television tubes, such odd things. But beautiful when grouped together.