25 Years of Drawing

October 21 - November 27, 2004

Works in exhibition

New Paintings

"Barbarism," 1992; Graphite on paper, 9 1/2" x 10"


Adam Baumgold Gallery presents the exhibition Mark Kostabi: 25 Years of Drawing from October 21 through November 27, 2004, a survey of 75 drawings by one of the seminal artists to emerge from the East Village in the early 1980s.

The meticulously executed drawings and collages in this exhibition are templates for Mark Kostabi's distinctive paintings of seamlessly rendered faceless figures in stark chiaroscuro, who engage in a vast number of diverse scenarios about contemporary society. His themes include alienation, loneliness, information overload, rampant technology, materialism, corporate aggression, artistic ambition, negotiation tricks, hypocrisy, meaningless worship, the mechanical production of art, the pressure to produce for the sake of production and the compartmentalization of the human soul.

Kostabi's drawings and collages are the basis for many of the paintings created in the much publicized Kostabi World, his SoHo studio where 25 assistants execute these works. There are also several early (1979 - 1983) pre-Kostabi World line drawings in the exhibition that are rendered with a fluid, economic grace that belies each energized, idea-filled sheet.

Among the works in the exhibition is "We Control Each Other," 2002, a volumetric pencil drawing which revisits Caravaggio's lighting from "Calling of Saint Matthew" while also updating one of Caravaggio's themes: trickery. In Caravaggio's "Fortune Teller," a gypsy slyly steals a ring off her client's finger. Instead, in "We Control Each Other," Kostabi evokes modern trickery by showing two corporate goons persuading a dumbfounded victim-to-be into signing a contract which is really the bait of a giant mousetrap.

"The Soft Takeover" hovers ambiguously between self-deprecating humor and rapacious art historical ambition as a faceless automaton, inspired by a Herbert List photograph, delicately inserts a flagpole adorned with a Kostabi World flag into an Arte Povera sculpture by Jannis Kounellis.

In "Barney's Rubble," a collage from 2003, complete with handwritten instructions for Kostabi's painters, a climbing faceless figure, inspired by a Daumier, scrambles up a rope in the rotunda of New York's Guggenheim Museum, acknowledging both Matthew Barney's recent retrospective there as well as Barney's early 1990's climbing performances.

The titles of these works are also important. Kostabi hosts a weekly public access TV show called Inside Kostabi: Name That Painting*, where well-known art critics compete to title his artworks for cash awards, in an open, clever, and amusing twist on the relationship between artist and critic. Many of the drawings in this mini-retrospective have been titled on this show.

Mark Kostabi has had 160 solo exhibitions worldwide and 28 in New York. This is his uptown gallery debut. Kostabi's work is in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., the National Gallery of Art in Rome and many others.

The gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11:00 - 5:30 PM.

*Inside Kostabi can be seen in Manhattan every Wednesday night at 9:30 on Channel 34 or simultaneously on the Internet at, Ch34.

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