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Michael Anderson: Collage Geomancy at Marlborough Chelsea

NEW YORK.- Marlborough Chelsea presents an exhibition of recent collages by New York based artist Michael Anderson will continue through Saturday, April 25th. This will be the artist’s third solo exhibition with Marlborough and his second at Marlborough Chelsea, located at 545 West 25th street.

The exhibition will consist of twelve new collages and a single sculpture, all of which are comprised of mass-produced advertising materials accumulated by the artist. Born in the Bronx in 1968, Mr. Anderson began his artistic career fusing painting and collage but has concentrated on collage since the early 1990s. Since that time his materials have consisted solely of posters and billboards found on the streets of international cities and physically torn down by the artist. In each work, multiple copies of the same advertisement are ripped into hundreds of varying pieces and reassembled into dynamic compositions that reflect the artist’s simultaneous commitments to representation and abstraction. The effect is one of vague recognition by the viewer, who has undoubtedly passed several of the images while walking down the streets of New York, Beijing or Rome, without stopping to focus on their cultural significance or aesthetic properties.

Anderson has experimented with a wide array of formats in his nearly two decades working with collage, ranging from small, intimate depictions of a single event to immense assemblages of contemporary imagery. This striking variance of scale is again evident in the artist’s newest series, which includes a number of meticulous collages measuring 36 x 24 in./91.4 x 60.9 cm., and culminates with a monumental, four-panel work entitled Black Music vs. Helvetica, 2008 (collage from street posters, 120 x 144 in./ 304.8 x 365.8 cm.), for which the artist collected advertising components over a seven-year period.

While Anderson spends countless hours every week scouring the city for the visual materials necessary to create such works, his subject matter is nonetheless determined by the advertising firms, marketing departments and societal trends that dictate which cultural entities are publicized and the manner in which they are presented. In gathering and interpreting mass quantities of these elements that are indicative of the current times, the artist has simultaneously become a documentarian of street culture. This is especially evident in works such as DEA Oscar, 2008 (collage from street posters, 72 x 60 in./ 182.9 x 152.4 cm.), where Anderson combines related imagery collected from a number of disparate sources to expose a unique facet of contemporary society. In this particular work the distinctly American appreciation of violence and confrontation is highlighted by the menacing individuals in the corners, the swarm of Drug Enforcement Agents cutting a swath through the center of the collage and the proliferation of skulls, weapons and blood-red abstraction. Anderson’s compositions of recontextualized images are similar to the sculptural installations of Jason Rhoades and Mark Dion, whose works are also characterized by the unification of found objects into an amalgamation of modern culture.

However, a more apparent influence on Anderson’s work is that of David Wojnarowicz, the seminal mixed-media artist of the 1970s and 80s whose paintings, photographs and collages probed the American psyche through an examination and appropriation of pop culture. The subtle confrontation that characterized much of the artist’s oeuvre can be found in Anderson’s Gold Record Car Crash, 2008 (collage from street posters, 60 x 72 in./ 152.4 x 182.9 cm.), and the aforementioned Black Music vs. Helvetica, 2008, whose multi-panel format was also pioneered by Wojnarowicz. Anderson assumed a more targeted approach to accumulation in order to create a rare tribute collage for this exhibition entitled The Incomplete Portrait of David Wojnarowicz, 2008 (collage from street posters, 36 x 24 in./ 91.4 x 60.9 cm.), which uses pictorial elements both found and sought out.

In his catalogue essay for Mr. Anderson’s 2007-2008 solo exhibition at Marlborough Chelsea, John Carlin remarks on the artist and his unique process: “Michael Anderson is a 21st Century Alchemist. He transforms the detritus of mass media by ripping posters from the street and then organizing them into collections of images, colors and forms.”

Anderson has had solo exhibitions in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Naples, Italy; Madrid, Spain and New York, NY. He joined Marlborough Gallery in 2006.

An illustrated color catalogue with an essay by Marc and Sara Schiller will be available at the time of the exhibition.

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