Andres Serrano, Bull Shit, 2008, photograph, edition of 5. Courtesy of Yvon Lambert New York, (550 West 21st Street).
Yvon Lambert New York is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by American artist Andres Serrano. The exhibition titled “SHIT” features new large scale photographs and will be accompanied by a full color catalogue with an essay by Hélène Cixous. The exhibition will open with a reception for the artist on September 4th from 6 to 8pm, and be on view from September 4th through October 4th, 2008.
The exhibition in New York will run concurrently with an exhibition of the same title at Yvon Lambert Paris from September 12th through October 16, 2008. Andres Serrano (b. 1950) is considered one of the most important contemporary artists working today. His work is held in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, Reina Sofia, Madrid and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, to name a few. Serrano is most famous for his seminal 1987 work Piss Christ, an image of a plastic crucifix submerged in urine. The photograph was the subject of a heated congressional debate in which politicians and religious leaders directly threatened Serrano’s right to public funding. The scandal resulted in an anti-obscenity clause that prevented “offensive” art works from National Endowment of the Arts support and made Serrano into a champion of artistic freedom. In 2007 Serrano made controversial headlines again when graphic photographs from his “History of Sex” series were vandalized in Sweden by members of a purported neo-Nazi group.
Serrano’s work focuses on universal themes such as bodily fluids, religion, sex and death. In this new series he continues his investigation of bodily functions through color photographs of excrement produced by a motley of animals. The photographs are formally constructed and demonstrate Serrano’s considerable technical skill while analyzing subject matter that might make some viewers squeamish. The artist treats the feces to his familiar bright psychedelic backgrounds and titles that demonstrate his keen sense of humour. The photographs are simultaneously repellent and fascinating, allowing the viewer to inspect the manure without the deterrent of odor or other sensual aggravation.
Although the theme is considered taboo, excrement has a discernable documentation in the history of art. In 1961 Piero Manzoni’s unveiled his “Merda d’Artista” metal cans that supposedly contained the artist’s stool, priced according to weight. Karen Finley smeared herself with symbolic feces and even Andy Warhol was quoted in the National Review saying that he would like to market his own excrement as jewelry (he felt it was merely a matter of tasteful packaging). Serrano does nonetheless confront the topic more directly than most. We recoil from his larger than life images of human and animal waste (an evolutionary and biological response to the diseases that are the consequence of bad sanitation. We are programmed to know this refuse is dangerous to handle or ingest). Once the viewer recovers from the initial shock of the images, they are left to curiously study this eccentric body of work. Who could have imagined that animals produce such an array of textures, shapes and color? Serrano gives us a selection of “shits” that he dubs Good Shit, Bad Shit, Bull Shit, Hieronymous Bosch shit, Romantic shit and Deep shit, humorous, insightful and often literal titles which further illustrate Serrano’s provocative point of view.