Jim Shaw, an icon in the Los Angeles art scene since the 1970’s has come east in a big way. And I mean big! The retrospective Jim Shaw-The End is Here takes up three floors of this museum. I always work top down at the New Museum and when you enter the top floor of this exhibit you are wowed by “Labyrinth: I Dreamt I was Taller than Jonathan Borofsky” which consists of colossal sculptures, banner paintings , free-standing political pieces – a vacuum-man sucks up people, Richard Nixon holds a bomber in his hand like a club. It was surreal and I was overwhelmed by the creativity, size and how disturbing it all was.
The other floors are no less strange. One gallery is full of art Shaw collected in thrift shops and garage sales. He titles them, arranges them and displays them. Can someone else’s art become your art simply because you own it and title it? This got me going and then I entered the room of his various collections and saw a case of Golden Encyclopedias, comic books, album covers and religious iconography that he amassed over time. I decided that Shaw is definitely an artist but, he’s also a hoarder.
The lowest floor of this exhibit displays “Dream Objects” and “My Mirage”. The dream series works recreate Mr. Shaw’s dreams and seem to be a visual rendering of his subconscious. A psychoanalyst could have a field day with these. Frightening and funny, I felt like I was looking into the mind a teenage boy – not a place I want to ever see again. “My MIrage” is like a graphic novel that deals with sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll and Christianity. It’s apparent that Mr. Shaw is working his out his psychological and religious issues through art. LAR
The New Museum, 235 Bowery
Open: Wednesday 11-6p, Friday-Sunday 11-6p, Thursday 11-9p
Ticket prices: $16 (free for members)
Discounts price: Thursday night free 7-9p – suggested admission $2