Webster’s defines “intriguing” as ‘engaging the interest to a marked degree: fascinating’ – and I can guarantee that everybody on this list fits that definition. They have all engaged my interest to the highest possible degree and to say they are all fascinating would be an understatement. This is my nod to 10 artists whose work I loved in 2008.
Cai Guo-Qiang’s retrospective earlier this year at the Guggenheim is something I’m genuinely mad at myself about for not seeing in person. The pictures are hard enough to comprehend, so I can’t imagine standing on the ground floor of the museum and just looking up at this beautiful mess. If that’s not enough for you, his ‘Wolves’ piece should do the trick.
More Info: http://www.caiguoqiang.com
Geoff has been doing great work for years now but this past year he really outdid himself. Another show I’m disappointed to have not seen in person, his Redcat Gallery show with Ed Fella looked brilliant. Fortunately I was able to get a copy of the book, ‘Two Lines Align’ from the show. Geoff’s humor, simplicity, and eye for good design has gotten better and better with time. Can’t wait to see what he has in store for 2009.
More Info: http://www.championdontstop.com
Kind of an obvious one, but I really can’t leave his name off this list. Brian Donnelly, aka KAWS, has been a press monster this past year. It seemed that in years prior he had been a little more mysterious and elusive; but with his cover of ANP Quarterly this year that followed a lot of other magazine, blog, and book appearances, it seems as though he’s beginning to open up a bit more. All the behind-the-scenes photos on his blog this year were really fun to keep up with. He continues to intrigue me with not only his actual work, but with how hard he actually works and how passionate he is about what he does.
More Info: http://www.kawsone.com
Not only does he masterfully front one of my favorite bands of all-time, Converge, but he also has masterminded what I consider the most well-branded and designed independent record label out there, Deathwish, Inc. I don’t remember what the first piece of Bannon’s I ever saw was (I think it was his cover for Converge’s ‘Petitioning the Empty Sky’) but I’ve been a fan for about as long as itâ€™s been possible to be a fan of his work (both visually and sonically). He’s so beautifully paired hardcore and metal music with incredible apparel, album packaging, and web presence – I really can’t think of anybody else who has done or could do what he has done with Deathwish. From his seminal cover for Converge’s ‘Jane Doe’ (you’ve seen it somewhere, I promise) to his latest work for Trap Them’s album ‘Seizures In Barren Praise”, Bannon is someone that you MUST pay attention to.
More Info: http://www.jacobbannon.com
John Dyer Baizley
Believe me – I regret that I have to link to his Myspace page. John – if you’re reading this, please work on putting your own real site together. Hell, I’ll do it for you. I’m not kidding, email me (Chuck@nopattern.com). John is quite possibly my favorite artist at the moment. And what a perfect follow-up to Jacob Bannon. Two guys who have figured out a way to perfectly blend metal and hardcore music with visuals so beautiful and modern yet violent and tough. I’m not saying good art for metal bands is something new – not at all. But between Jacon Bannon and John Baizley, a new era of art for metal has been fully ushered in. John is intriguing to me because he is SO good, but he has no site. I can’t really find many good interviews with him that focus on his work. As far as I know, he doesn’t have art prints readily available to buy (eBay has some Vitamin X stuff and I scanned and printed out my own Pig Destroyer – “Phantom Limb” poster) which he should…so…here’s to you John – may 2009 see your work taken to new heights (and art prints and a site and a book…)
More Info: http://www.myspace.com/johndyerbaizley
David Shrigley is intriguing by the very nature of his work. It’s not a 2008 thing, it’s a “he just is this way and always will be” kind of thing. But I really got interested in him in ’08, hence his inclusion on this list. If you can manage clicking through everything on the Drawings section of his site without cracking up with laughter every few seconds, there’s a good chance you were born with no sense of humor. That’s too bad. His exhibition in NY this past April looked great and I look forward to what he does next.
More Info: http://www.davidshrigley.com/
This list would be sorely incomplete without including Shepard Fairey. Easily the most visible artist of 2008 thanks to his uncannily popular work for Obama, Fairey is now a living legend. He was headed that way anyways, but 2008 sped up the process. Love him or hate him, you cannot argue with this statement. His ties to the ridiculous success of Obama’s campaign are forever. I still almost can’t believe he became so officially tied to Obama’s campaign considering his history with graffiti and the law, but it’s a new day for politics and art. Such a compelling story.
More Info: http://www.obeygiant.com
I love this guy’s work. Seriously…I absolutely love it. You know an artist is great when they can make something haunting and dark but still fresh and modern and do it so perfectly. His bizarre installation at this year’s Art Basel was the nail in the coffin for me to include him in this list. 12 tons of pressure slowly being applied to his ‘wall of mirrors’ slowly shattering them over time. I love it. So cool.
More Info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banks_Violette
BLT & Associates
A unique inclusion on this list as it’s the only non-individual I’ve chosen, but I have good reasoning for it. 2008 was a really fantastic year for movies and BLT & Assoc. was responsible for the posters and branding of so many of them, most notably ‘The Dark Knight‘. In my opinion one of the best branded films of all-time. The posters were insanely cool and they were everywhere. BLT’s body of work is enormous – it takes a long time to go through all 23 pages of campaigns on their site, but it’s easy to get lost in it and a lot of fun to look through. Love what they did for Wall-E too.
More Info: http://www.bltomato.com/index_full.html
A fine way to round out this list – Jeremy Geddes is in a talent realm all his own. It’s been a lot of fun to follow his blog posts this year, as few and far between as they have been…and his great new site went up back in June. All the artists on this list were chosen because they have a unique, compelling, and intriguing quality about them and as I picked my brain for who I wanted on here, I almost immediately was reminded of Jeremy’s astronaut paintings. I remember when I first saw them. I just kind of stared and wondered if I was missing something or if they were part of a larger story or what the deal was. But I wasn’t frustrated that I didn’t ‘get it,’ I just looked on in awe at the raw skill that went into creating them and it blew my mind.
More Info: http://www.jeremygeddesart.com
I have to admit, I finished this list and forgot to include Raymond Pettibon until the next day. Very stupid of me. I’ve always loved looking at the old Black Flag covers and at the punk rock and hardcore flyers from days before I was even alive, and Pettibon’s work was always present when I’d go looking through those in books, on the web, and in magazines. Always loved it, so perfectly weird and purely punk rock. It seems as though there was a period of time after punk rock’s hey day where people lost interest in that stuff, but these last few years, especially this past year, has been a huge resurgence for Pettibon’s work. I love all the new stuff he’s doing. Very fascinating to watch all the renewed interest in him grow and grow like crazy.