2 posts tagged "Alex Israel"
The famous old dodge—”I read Playboy for the articles”—is getting a contemporary update. Thanks to a revamp and a prominent new hire, you can now look at Playboy for the art.
The magazine recently signed curator Neville Wakefield as its special projects director, and he’s been working on some highbrow—albeit playful—extensions. His first official venture involved commissioning three artists (Aaron Young—left, Malerie Marder, and Alex Israel) to create work presenting the 2013 Playmate of the Year, Raquel Pomplun, within the context of art. “I think it’s a reimagining of what Playboy can be,” said Wakefield, who’s working on another art-centric supplement for November.
The effort got us wondering: When is a picture art, and when is it erotica? “I think it has a lot to do with context,” offered Wakefield. “Porn has an efficacy when it comes to arousal, but [these works] are meditations on a person and a condition, so in that respect, they are art.” We put the question to the artists themselves; their original works debut exclusively here.
Playmates are “always working with their bodies,” said Aaron Young, so he covered a nude Pomplun neck-to-toe in paint and had her press her body (in one case, dragging her) across canvas for a series inspired by Yves Klein’s press paintings. “This definitely has rich and deep connections to art history,” he said. “I mean, there have been so many different kinds of nudes, why not work with the most popular nude in America?
The bottom line: Is it erotica? “If somebody has a good enough imagination, I’m sure it probably could be. But I think that expressing an idea through any medium can be sexy. I mean, I find dry conceptualism sexy, sometimes.” Continue Reading “Playboy‘s Artist Pals Are Rethinking Sexy—But Is It Porn Or Art?” »
There aren’t too many people lining up to celebrate the L.A. Freeway. But for his new optical line, Alex Israel wanted something emblematically Californian. Short of the Hollywood sign, there’s not much more iconic than that. “One of my main focuses and interests as an artist is the tradition and history of Southern California, and in the creation of a specific kind of a regional aesthetic that’s very much related to the landscape,” the USC Fine Arts graduate explains. And when the time came to pick a girl to model for the six hand-carved styles for the Anthony Friedkin-lensed lookbook, Israel went with someone he considered a true Angelena (a current residence in NYC notwithstanding): Harley Viera-Newton. “You can always take the girl out of L.A., but you can’t take the L.A. out of the girl,” he said of the DJ-turned-model. “Harley has this kind of amazing sophistication and carefree spirit that kind of embodies the ethos of Southern California.” (He might’ve discovered it years earlier. As they discovered, Israel and Viera-Newton had gone to the same L.A. high school.) That’s a low-effort cool that should translate well within SoCal and without. The frames—available in black, gray, and white, in both matte and glossy finishes—are understated, chic, and (perhaps most surprisingly) $100.
Freeway Eyewear is available at its Web site, The Smile, and Gagosian Shop in NYC, and Maxfield in L.A.