Please Don’t Eat the Art (or, CVS plus Chelsea Gallery plus Art Historian plus Fine Artist = Sticky Masterpieces)

May 6, 2011 at 10:38 am 1 comment

If you like candy and you like art, there’s a gallery show here in New York City that you can’t miss:

Nicole Root is an art historian and Paul Shore is a visual artist. Over beers one night a few years ago, they started musing on the sculptural forms of mass produced candies like Good and Plenty’s and Rolo’s. They pondered the notion that the same impulse toward pure forms and masses that inspired twentieth century modernist sculpture seemed to be expressed, on a smaller and sweeter scale, in Starburst cubes and Tic Tac ovoids. Is a Ring Pop so different from the pop art of Jeff Koons? And thus was born one of the most interesting candy art projects in my recollection.

Root and Shore eventually produced over 70 candy parodies of iconic contemporary sculptures. Here are a few, so you can get the basic idea:

Chair (after Yayoi Kusama); Necco Circle (after Richard Long); Addendum (after Eva Hesse)

Candy is a tricky artists’ medium. It comes in lots of textures and colors, and it isn’t expensive. But it doesn’t age well. And you have to be careful not to eat the art. So what we have is the photographic documentation of the original sculptures, which were archived for a time in Paul’s refrigerator and now have gone to the great candy resting place in the sky.

My favorite piece of the show is “Torqued Taffy (after Richard Serra),” a re-vision of Richard Serra’s monumental steel sculpture. Richard Serra is known for working with immense sheets of steel that he bends into ellipses, spirals, and curves. This work is not so much seen as felt; you stand near one or pass through one and feel a sort of oppressive, looming presence. They aren’t really for indoor use, unless you live in an airplane hangar. Mostly you’ll find them outside, where they sprout out of the ground like mysterious monoliths, evoking ancient religions and mysterious rites. Often the steel surface is left untreated, so that natural rust and corrosion slowly transform the piece. They seem timeless and eternal.

”]And here is Root and Shore’s homage to Serra:

Where Serra’s work feels permanent and indestructible, the candy version is already melting away. The candy version is maybe one inch high; but when it is rendered like this in a photograph, you can imagine it as an enormous piece. That sort of faux-monumentality is enhanced by the sag and droop of the taffy, which give a sense of gravity and time passing. I also like the way the taffy still has the imprint of the wrapper. This makes the work especially intriguing to me: you can’t forget that this is candy from a wrapper, but at the same time you are fully immersed in the sculptural form. The taffy has a visible body and texture, it is grainy and irregular and stretched or pinched in ways that may or may not be deliberate. Compared to the machined steel of Serra’s work, the taffy seems more alive and more responsive as a medium.

Monumental sculpture is meant to be one of our most exalted forms of cultural expression. Mass produced candy, on the other hand, is our most degraded and junky form of food. Sculpture, at least traditional sculpture, shows the traces of the hand of the individual artist. In contrast, mass produced candy is punched out over and over by machine. I like the way candy art upends these solid distinctions. And I like the way this work isn’t afraid to have fun with the high seriousness of art history. I’m hoping to see “Torqued Taffy” on the cover of Art Forum one day soon!

All images courtesy Paul Shore and Nicole Root except where noted.

“Licked Sucked Stacked Sucked” on view at Jim Kempner Fine Arts, 501 W 23 St, New York until June 18.

Related: for more on what I think is a new movement in candy aesthetics, see my review of Dylan Lauren’s Dylan’s Candy Bar: Unwrap Your Sweet Life

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

Eat More, Weigh Less: Bulking up Candy with Vegetables News Brief: Smells Like Candy Spirit

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. david klein  |  May 8, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Loved your latest blog. It inspired me to think about what we can do with our candies.Are you going to the Chicago candy show?

    Reply

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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

Welcome to Candy Professor

Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

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