Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pattern and Degradation at Gavin Brown Enterprise

Rob Pruitt’s exhibition, Pattern and Degradation, now on view at Gavin Brown Enterprise and Maccarone Gallery, lives up to its expected excess in the wake of a nation wide recession. Both galleries are generously filled with work ranging from appropriated Hokusai prints to exquisite corpse photographs of Pruitt in the surrealist tradition. The Pandas flocked in glitter and the Amish inspired Rumspringa paintings emphasize the socio-economic contrast that exists between those within and those outside of the art world and familiarly use a pop style to express this commentary.

The most striking pieces in the show are the Cardboard Monsters, figures made out of collapsed cardboard boxes who are given real life personas and larger than life googley eyes. The figures have legs wearing work boots, Uggs, and stilettos coming out from their cardboard frame, adhering with the show’s consumerist theme while seeming to point toward a hypocrisy that exists within the current go-green trend. Though the figures are recycled cardboard boxes they still are sporting trends and hooked into electrical outlets that power their wandering eyes. The Monsters were all given first names that correspond to relevant figures such as Gavin Brown, Hope Athertone, and Jonathon Horowitz. The naming of these figures widens the gap between those included and those excluded from the “know,” giving an esoteric edge to these otherwise universally relatable figures.

While I was put off by the flashy quality of the work-to-be-bought that Rob Pruitt produced for this show, I wasn’t left feeling un-stimulated. The excesses of the exhibition left me considering and reconsidering the purpose of art in today’s market.


  1. Overall I liked the structure of your review, you hit the highs and lows of the exhibition very well. Additionally your description of the work is very clear and gives someone unfamiliar with the work a clear idea of what it is about. I wished you had talked about the kitsch humor Rob Pruitt utilized. How the pieces are funny and over the top playing upon our overly saturated culture.

  2. Good job finding meaning in works that the casual viewer might pass off as kitsch, or in the case of the Cardboard Monsters, just silly looking creatures. I like how you went into detail about the types of shoes they were wearing and the irony of the Cardboard Monsters being plugged into the wall. Since you bring up the excesses of this show, I would go into detail about one or two more pieces, and explain for those who haven’t seen the show the “socio-economic contrasts that exist”. Something that’s unclear is the “work-to-be-bought” that you mentioned. How were they flashy? Were there big price-tags on the wall?