Ashley Bickerton, Albino Shark, 2008, Pearlescent polyurethane resin, nylon, cotton webbing, stainless steel, scope, distilled water, coconuts and rope, 60 x 108 x 60 inches. White Cube
Admittedly, our title misleads: unlike the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which this Sunday began its seven-day shark programming extravaganza, we’re providing just one post on the subject. We all contribute what we can.
As such, we diligently scoured history books and the web to bring readers a smattering of our favorite shark moments in art. Our highlights after the jump.
John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark, 1778
Copley’s turbulent masterpiece awed viewers when it was first displayed for its immediacy and violent theme to such an extent that he made two more copies of the work. The more vertical composition ended up at the Detroit Institute of Fine Arts, a museum that made news this week after Bush adviser-turned art critic David Frum described it as “nice” but not comparable to Cleveland's museum, or the Art Institute of Chicago.
Mike Kelley, Profondeurs Vertes, 2006, multimedia installation, Museu de Louvre, Paris, France
Copley’s shark painting inspired a great number of artists, perhaps most recently, Mike Kelley’s multimedia installation at the Louvre.
Damian Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death, 1991
Speaking of museums known for their old master collection making foyers into contemporary art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art currently houses Damian Hirst’s suspended shark The Physical Impossibility of Death. They displayed the work along side a Copley copy and a Homer Watson painting.
Winslow Homer, The Gulf Stream, 1899, oil on canvas, 28 x 49 inches
Frank Stella, Study for Watson and the Shark no. 2, 1990
Prior to Mike Kelley riffing on Copley, Frank Stella created the above assemblage. I’m not what you would consider a fan of this work, but AFC’s Associate Editor Karen Archey reminds us that not everyone feels the same way. Just this morning she came across Zigart, an Etsy artist, inspired by Stella’s work riffing on a Copley copy.
David Wojnarowicz, Untitled Shark, 1984. Image via: P.P.O.W.
We found David Wojnarowicz’s Untitled Shark at the P.P.O.W. site today. Unlike many of the other works it bears no relationship to Copley’s Watson and the Shark, though it may tangentially connect to tonight’s extra-curricular activity for venue alone. Associate Editor Karen Archey’s Low Museum will be on view at P.P.O.W. starting tonight.
Ashley Bickerton, Orange Shark, 2008, Pearlescent polyurethane resin, nylon, cotton webbing, stainless steel, scope, distilled water, coconuts and rope, 30 x 116 x 42 inches. Lehmann Maupin
We’ll admit the Albino Bickerton Shark we led with makes a little more sense to us than the Orange one in the series. Not that we know what to make of the bondage/coconut shark wear in either scenario, but at least the red liquid in the former could reflect the brutality of the fish.
Sebastiaan Bremer, Still life with Shark on the Bosporus, 2007, mixed media, 47 x 47 inches. Image via: artnet
Even shark still lives require a skull for good measure. Awesome.
Ivan Witenstein, Shark Fin, 2002
An object so aesthetized its violent connotations practically disappear.
Pierre Winther, Shark Riding, photograph? Camera Work. Image via: artnet
Want to catch a few rays while riding a shark? Don’t forget your sunglasses!
San Fernando Valley Shark painting, 1995
A suburban shark diptych.
The shark van.