MoCA Museum of Contemporary Art

Sympathy for the Devil

29 May - 07 Sep 2008

© Richard Kern
Film still from Submit to Me Now, 1987
Courtesy of the artist and Feature, New York
Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967

May 29, 2008 through September 7, 2008

The first major exhibition to explore the relationship between contemporary art and rock music over the past forty years.

The exhibition, whose title is culled from the Rolling Stones song that invites the listener to “have some sympathy and some taste” charts the intersection of the two cultural genres through art, album cover design, music videos, film and other materials, and examines the convergence of traditionally serious visual art and rebellious and irreverent rock music

Beginning with Andy Warhol’s legendary involvement with Velvet Underground in 1967 and culminating in a major new installation by British artist Jim Lambie, whose background as a rock musician and DJ heavily informs his sculpture, Sympathy for the Devil provides a serious and comprehensive presentation of art work arising form the intersection of these two worlds.

Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and curated by MCA, Chicago Curator Dominic Molon, Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967 includes over 100 works of art by 56 artists and artist collectives, explores the varied ways art and music interrelated and overlapped (or in some cases not) in six geographic centers: New York, West Coast/Los Angeles, Midwest, United Kingdom, Europe, and “The World.” The emphasis is not on the aesthetics of rock, but on singular and significant works of art in various formats and media, that were created as a circumstance of the two cultural genres coming together.

New York
New York City has served as the pioneering leader in the merging of art and rock music from the mid-1960s to the present. In the late 1960s, Andy Warhol’s studio, known as The Factory, was a center of New York’s underground cultural scene. Warhol collaborated with musical artists who were far from the pop music mainstream at the time and provided them greater visibility and opportunities to further unite rock music and art. The exhibition features Warhol’s Screen Tests films with Lou Reed, Maureen Tucker, John Cale, and others. A decade later, punk, New Wave, and No Wave bands shared stages and gallery spaces with visual artists who often participated as performers.

New York artists presented in Sympathy for the Devil include Tony Oursler, Richard Prince, Dan Graham, Christian Marclay, Adam Pendleton, and Jack Pierson. Eight portrait prints by Richard Prince feature notable art and music figures such as Brian Eno, David Byrne, Amos Poe, Dee Dee Ramone, Peter Nadin, and Laurie Anderson, as well as photographs from Richard Kern’s provocative New York Girls series and film stills from Submit to Me Now; and Slater Bradley’s film Year of the Doppelganger that examines the masculine identity through the comparison of musical and athletic types.

Christian Marclay layers a gallery floor with vinyl records and a large-scale commissioned work by Adam Pendleton is comprised of 90 black-and-white silkscreen fragmented post-punk figures and symbols. Jack Pierson’s sign lettering sculpture, Phil Spector, is strongly reminiscent of the ransom-note-like graphic style of 1970s punk rock and recognizes the once-renowned and currently maligned rock producer, Phil Spector.

West Coast/Los Angeles
The relationship between art and rock music on the West Coast was not as close knit as in New York. The West Coast scene consisted of disparate elements such as San Francisco’s psychedelic culture of the 1960s and Los Angeles’ anti-establishment figures such as Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and Raymond Pettibon. Among the works featured in this section are Raymond Pettibon’s drawings for flyers and album covers that he created for the bands on his brother, Greg Ginn’s, independent record label, SST; Los Angeles artist Mark Flores’ drawings of Iggy Pop and Jayne (formerly Wayne) County, and Jason Rhoades’s neon sign installation, Velvet Underground/Perfect World; along with works by Marnie Weber, Rodney Graham, Thaddeus Strode, Dave Muller, The Residents, and Mungo Thomson.

A number of Midwest artists and musicians embraced the avant-garde scene, drawing inspiration from the likes of the MC5, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, and Pere Ubu. Midwest artists include Ed Paschke, Maillo Tsuru Bell, Pedro Bell, Karl Wirsum, Jim Drain, and emerging Chicago artists Melanie Schiff and Josh Mannis, whose works are inspired by vintage rock and roll culture.

United Kingdom
The relationship between avant-garde art and rock music in the U.K. was greatly nurtured by art schools that supported and promoted an active creative exchange. Rock figures Pete Townsend and Keith Richards and bands such as Gang of Four emerged directly from art schools. U.K. artists featured include Richard Hamilton, Savage Pencil (Edwin Pouncey), Scott King, and Douglas Gordon. Gordon’s installation of videos from his Bootleg series, feature slowed and manipulated footage from concert videos of the Smiths, the Cramps, and the Rolling Stones. Cosey Fanni Tutti, a member of the transgressive performance collective COUM Transmissions, which became the Industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle, is represented with ephemera that documents her own activities as well as those of two musical groups. Jim Lambie, the visual artist, DJ, and ex-member of the popular Glaswegian band, The Boy Hairdressers, which went on to become Teenage Fanclub, captures the energy and spirit of rock music with his sculpture floor installation incorporating multi-colored electrical tape.

Although the European crossover between art and rock and roll was a continent-wide phenomenon, much of the most important expressions took place in Germany. The Düsseldorf and Cologne art and music scene produced experimental Krautrock music groups from the 1970s such as Kraftwerk, Neu!, and Can; and musically-inspired visual artists in the 1980s and 1990s such as Martin Kippenberger and Kai Althoff. Among the other European artists featured in the exhibition are the important female music and art figures Jutta Koether, and Pipilotti Rist, and Alexandra Mir.

The World
From Japanese POP artist Yoshimoto Nara’s drawings, to Mexico City’s Daniel Guzman’s noir rock-themed drawings, Thai-born artist Rirkrit Tiravanija’s plexiglass recording studio, and new large-scale graphic collages by the Brazilian artist collaborative assume vivid astro focus, many different countries explore and celebrate the fusion of art and rock music.

Many art-rock music videos will be presented including videos by Art & Language and the Red Krayola, Mark Leckey, Pipilotti Rist, Richard Kern, Robert Longo, and Tony Oursler.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami is located at 770 NE 125th Street, North Miami, FL. For information, please call 305.893.6211 or visit Museum hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm; Sunday noon – 5 pm, and last Friday of each month from 7 – 10 pm. Admission is free for MOCA members, North Miami residents/City employees, and children under 12; $5 non-members; $3 seniors and students with ID.

The presentation of Sympathy for the Devil at MOCA, North Miami is made possible by Toni and Daniel Holtz, the Braman Family Foundation and Ocean Drive magazine.

Support for the exhibition is generously provided by Cari and Michael Sacks. Additional support is provided by Sara Albrecht, Marilyn and Larry Fields, Brian Herbstritt, Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, Nancy and David Frej, Adrienne and Stan Green, Dana and Andy Hirt, Sylvie Légère and Todd Ricketts, The Orbit Fund, Curt and Jennifer Conklin, Sam Schwartz, and Debra and Dennis Scholl.

Tags: Kai Althoff, Laurie Anderson, Slater Bradley, David Byrne, Mark Flores, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Li Gang, Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Dan Graham, Daniel Guzman, Richard Hamilton, Richard Kern, Scott King, Martin Kippenberger, Jutta Koether, Jim Lambie, Art & Language, Art & Language, Mark Leckey, Robert Longo, Christian Marclay, Dave Muller, Tony Oursler, Ed Paschke, Adam Pendleton, Raymond Pettibon, Jack Pierson, Richard Prince, Jason Rhoades, Pipilotti Rist, Melanie Schiff, Dennis Scholl, Thaddeus Strode, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Andy Warhol, Marnie Weber