Matthew Brannon opened his first solo museum show at the Whitney Museum Altria on Park Avenue and 42nd Street. At the intersection of this transportation hub, a predominantly suited populace come in and out of Grand Central en route to power lunches, the racquet club, and the confined dreams of cubicle days. Just a sheet of plate glass away from the bustle, Brannon’s prints sit neatly. They are evenly spaced on wooden trestles inside a calm and sparse interior.
His work references the neat tableau of the white collar worker. Brannon’s muse is the dark circled, fake tanned, coked up, business class, success story that we urbanites are all in touch with in our global capitalist system. His imagery pulls together the signifiers of our contemporary life “on the road”, or more aptly, on the plane, in the cab, at the bar, in the hotel.
Flat cut-out shapes of sake bottles, American Express cards, travel companion alarm clocks and other high-end detritus are organized in a tight, minimal composition. These symbols are evocative of some deeper undercurrent of emotion that has flat lined. We’ve accomplished so much, but are we truly happy? Have we avoided loneliness, hunger or fear?
Each print is neatly subtitled with a poetry gleaned from idiomatic arguments and cliche compliments that all cosmopolitans have dished or eaten at one point or another. Brannon’s work is addressed to this vaguely defined, but easily incarnated strata of people which simultaneously includes jet-set artists and managing directors of large financial firms. We all seem to be immersed in this two-faced lifestyle of innumerable “connections”, dysfunctional romances, and designer face lotion. While alienation and bitterness could rear its ugly head, for now we are self-aware and self-satisfied. Brannon has given us the perfect print to hang right above that desk where you fucked your secretary.
Whitney Museum of American Art Altria
120 Park Avenue at 42nd Street
Open March 29 – August 2007
Read the press release here.
Read the New York Times review, Material Muse for Some Strange Bedfellows.