Jim Kempner Fine Art Underground is pleased to present LICKED SUCKED STACKED STUCK: A Confectionery History of Contemporary Sculpture, a collaborative project by visual artist, Paul Shore and art historian, Nicole Root. This high-sucrose meditation on sculpture, photography and art history will feature a selection of photographs and videos guaranteed to make your mouth water and your teeth hurt.
There will be a reception for the artists on Thursday, May 5 from 6-8.
Four years ago, while discussing Richard Serra’s retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, Paul Shore and Nicole Root were struck by the commonly overlooked parallel between candy and contemporary sculpture. Their epiphany began with Shore’s suggestion to make one of Serra’s monumental ellipses out of taffy. This simple proposal soon bred others: From Carl Andre to Tara Donovan, Shore and Root found the work of nearly every major contemporary sculptor to have some sort of sugary counterpart.
Just as Minimalist artists frequented the shops of industrial suppliers along Canal Street, Shore and Root scoured candy stores in search of new ideas and materials. In the mass-produced, modular units of Pez, Wax Stix, Good & Plenty and Hershey bars, Shore and Root saw the work of Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Louise Bourgeois and Tony Smith. Starburst and Twizzlers offered up a rainbow of artificial colors surprisingly similar to those in Donald Judd’s Plexiglas boxes and Judy Chicago’s early sculpture. Even candy in the form of recognizable objects seemed, to Shore and Root, to bear a striking resemblance to the appropriations of Jeff Koons and Haim Steinbach.
Though Shore and Root’s creations range from loose re-imaginings of an artist’s style to explicit reproductions of identifiable works, there is often a physical and cultural specificity in their choice of materials. Robert Morris’s L-Beams take the form of sugar wafers, characteristically vanilla and neutral. The dusty, muted colors of Necco wafers, intended by the New England Confectionery Company to appeal to health-conscious mothers, evoke the natural aesthetic of Richard Long. Likewise, the misshapen bodies and cloying smiles of down-market marshmallow rabbits correspond to Mike Kelley’s grotesque combinations of awkward, homemade toys.
In contrast to recent sweet-based art that emphasizes sophisticated tastes and luxurious settings, much of the appeal of LICKED SUCKED STACKED STUCK derives from Shore and Root’s use of the vernacular. Cheap candy, easily found at the local candy store or bodega, is arranged on Shore’s kitchen table and photographed. In the process, each sculpture is transformed into something at once intimate and digestible—a parody of the high-budget seriousness of much contemporary sculpture and a tribute to its original artists.