June 22, 2013
By Thomas Micchelli
Crackup: Llyn Foulkes Gives Us the Art We Deserve
With its superb retrospective of the art of Llyn Foulkes, the New Museum pulls off the almost impossible trick of elucidating the work of a long-neglected, unclassifiable and thoroughly recalcitrant figure without sacrificing its mysteries or thorniness.
The evolution from then (more than sixty years ago) to now in Foulkes-World is a bewildering experience. The neo-Dada/neo-Kienholz/neo-Rauschenberg/black/brown/gray matter of his debut efforts is absolutely nothing like the mordant, hyper-illusionistic tableaux — hybrids of painting, assemblage, collage, found objects and molded bas-relief — that the artist started making in 1983.
But as it progresses, the exhibition, curated by Ali Subotnick, enables us to form a complex but cogent overview of the artist even as he zigs here and zags there.
The first room, right off the elevators, is a wildly mixed bag, an aggregate of juvenilia in vitrines and compactions of apocalyptic residue on the walls. There is also a surrealist oil on wood painted in 1953 when Foulkes was 19, a year before he was drafted into the army.
Foulkes’ stint in the service, which brought him to postwar Germany, was followed by studies at the University of Washington and the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. He quickly entered LA’s art scene with a group show at Ferus Gallery in 1959 and a solo there in 1961. Another solo, this time at the Pasadena Museum of Art, came a year later. Read More.