Almine Rech Gallery, one of Paris’s foremost galleries, opened its first New York location more than a year ago on the Upper East Side, bringing with it a unique program that mixes a strong artist roster with a consistently adventurous curatorial project. For its most recent venture, the gallery has brought together key figures from the canon of 20th century Western art for Words Without Thoughts Never to Heaven Go. Adapting its title from a line in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the exhibition investigates ways artists use text as an allegorical element. Serving as a chronological and thematic starting point to the exhibition is Être ou ne pas être, Picasso’s 1912 painting considered as one of the foremost examples of appropriation of text in modern painting. Declaring “to be or not be” in French with gouache on paper, Picasso not only pays homage to one of the most emblematic texts ever written, but he also questions the mimetic essence of a painting. Can a painting of words serve to depict an image?
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Dash Snow, image via The World’s Best Ever.
New York City
Dash Snow, born and raised in New York City, was regularly associated with the “downtown scene,” referring to a sort of second coming of 1960s and 70s Warhol-era New York. Snow, who at a young age ran away from home, began to use drugs heavily, joined a graffiti crew, and started documenting his life at age 16 through Polaroid photographs.
Often depicting self-destructive escapades, Snow’s photographs captured the energy and lives of those around him. However, the photographs, which were included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial, were not simply a form of documentation—they carry a haunting, at once frightful and beautiful quality that grabs the viewer.
Snow’s more recent work veered away from his traditional Polaroid work and focused more on collage and assemblage sculpture. The collages and sculptures focused primarily on American politics and are imbued with an apparent mockery, conceptually reminiscent of Dada collages from the early 20th century.
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