A group exhibition at 521 West 21st Street presents works by Terry Adkins, Christian Marclay and Kelley Walker, evincing the importance of music and sound as a boundless source of inspiration for these visual artists.
The art of Terry Adkins reveals the influence of music in its structure, composition and rhythm, and the use of ready-made instruments is a prominent characteristic of the artist’s practice. For example, Synapse (1992) transforms the surface of a percussion instrument into a wall-mounted sculpture, glinting with gold-hued metallic paint applied to one side. Audience (from Belted Bronze) (2007-08) is a tribute to blues singer Bessie Smith, drawing attention to the complex reception of her contributions to culture. A taxidermy peacock perched atop a stack of milk crates examines a suite of Adkins’ works on paper arranged in a grid, wherein pencil drawings of the outlines of African sculptures are paired with extracts from Carl Van Vechten’s account of a Smith concert he attended in 1925. Van Vechten’s writing conveys a mixture of adoration and fetishistic stereotyping, intertwining with Adkins’ arrangement of references to highlight an audience’s myriad modes of interpretation.
Christian Marclay has long-explored the connections between vision and sound, creating works in which these two sensibilities enrich and challenge one another. The exhibition includes early works by the artist, such as Chorus I (1988), a salon-style installation of twenty-two black-and-white photographs of open mouths. Closely cropped to focus on the vocalists, and enclosed in a variety of different frames, the work is an orchestra of human voices projecting a sound of the viewer’s imagination. Chorus I is an early example of the technique of montage and collage of sources characteristic of much of Marclay’s practice, creating a remarkable sense of cohesion from disparate appropriated sources. This sampling and recombining of existing elements will be familiar to viewers of Marclay’s later video works. Extended Phone II (1994), an old-fashioned telephone with a spiraling cord enlarged to comical proportions, unfurls extravagantly on the floor.
Known for his manipulation of long-circulating images from advertising and other sources, Kelley Walker examines the consumption of visual culture using collage, screen-printing, sculpture, and installation. Bose Glitter Stock (2016) and Untitled (Screen to Screen) (2017) contain montages of superimposed silkscreen images printed on polyester mesh substrate, the armature for screen printing. Pioneer PL-518 7-inch Series Love (Is The Answer) (2015) is a grid of silkscreened panels that reproduce vinyl records and their packaging. Walker referenced the legendary Pioneer brand of turntables, famously advertised by Andy Warhol, as part of his investigation into the visual culture of the 1970s and 1980s New York disco scene.
Coinciding with this exhibition, recent works by Frank Stella are installed in the street-level vitrine at 529 West 21st Street.