Transforming Iconic Images in the Age of Sampling [NSFW]

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Sampling is the mode of the moment. In a sketchbook note from the early-’60s, Jasper Johns wrote, “Take an object, do something to it. Do something else to it.” It wasn’t a totally new idea in art, but when considered in the development of postmodernism and 21st century art that was made after art, that simple statement had a profound effect. Studying the visual terrain for a number of years, collector and curator Beth Rudin DeWoody not only saw examples of this theory in use, she realized the opportunity to motivate artists working with photography to take iconic images as their point of departure for new work.

The resulting exhibition, appropriately titled Inspired at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York, is a striking display of poetic, interpretive works by Terence Koh, Mickalene Thomas, Chris Verene, and others that shows what artists do best: investigate something and make it their own. For example, Jonah Fay-Hurwitz, Kyle DeWoody & Jordan Doner collaborated to create a twist on Annie Leibovitz’s famous photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono canoodling on the cover of Rolling Stone. In the Leibovitz picture, John was nude and Yoko was dressed; in the new image, Jonah is clothed and Kyle is naked.

In an earlier identity switch, Henry Garfunkel shot Cry Baby star Johnny Depp in a pile of hay back in 1989 to mimic George Hurrell’s iconic 1941 image of Jane Russell, when she was making The Outlaw. Likewise, photographer Mark Seliger turned Heidi Klum into a Jayne Mansfield look-alike to recreate an anonymous 1957 picture of Mansfield and Sophia Loren dining at Romanoffs in Beverly Hills for a 2002 magazine editorial spread. Meanwhile, one of the oddest pictures in the show is Eric Kroll’s Homage to Man Ray, a 1999 black-and-white photo of two nearly nude women sitting on a bed in only black gloves, necklaces, and books bound by stockings over their faces. It’s as surreal as anything Man ever made!

Inspired, which is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, is on view at Steven Kasher Gallery through August 13.

Click through below for a gallery of images

Jonah Fay-Hurwitz, Kyle DeWoody & Jordan Doner, (Just Like) Double Fantasy, Kyle & Jonah as John & Yoko, Jordan Doner as Annie Leibovitz, 2010. Digital C-print, 16.5 x 16.5 inches. Courtesy of the artists and Steven Kasher Gallery. Inspired by Annie Leibovitz, John and Yoko, The Dakota, N.Y.C. December 6, 1980. Rolling Stone cover, January 22, 1981

Henry Garfunkel, Johnny Depp as Cry-Baby, 1989. Gelatin silver, printed 2010. 14 x 11”, edition 1/10. Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery. Inspired by George Hurrell, Portrait of Jane Russell from The Outlaw, 1941

Burton Machen, Urban Evolution #8, 9/16/2009, 8:41:38am, NYC, 2009. Archival pigment, printed, 2010. 36 x 24”, edition 1/11, Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery. Inspired by Diane Arbus, Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, New York City, 1962 and Berenice Abbott, Nightview, New York, 1932

Mickalene Thomas, Le Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires, 2010. C-print, printed 2010. 47 x 58”, AP1, edition of 5 & 2 APs, Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery. Inspired by the work of Seydou Keïta

Terence Koh, God (Untitled), 2007. Archival pigment print, 4.87 x 3.5 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery. Inspired by Man Ray, Rrose Sélavy (Marcel Duchamp), 1921

La Toya Ruby Frazier, Woodlawn Street, Braddock, 2010. Gelatin silver print, 24 x 20 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery. Inspired by Helmut Newton, Le Smoking, Rue Aubriot for French Vogue, Paris, 1975

Scott Peterman, New York City, 2007. C-print, printed 2007. 24 x 20”, edition 15/15. Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery. Inspired by Berenice Abbott, Nightview, New York, 1932

Mark Seliger, Heidi Klum as Jayne Mansfield, 2002. Archival pigment, printed 2010. 20 x 24”, edition 6/20. Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery, Inspired by Anonymous, Jayne Mansfeld and Sophia Loren at Romanoff’s,Beverly Hills, 1957

Eric Kroll, Homage to Man Ray, 1999. Gelatin silver, printed 1999, 8 x 10”, edition 3/10. Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery. Inspired by Man Ray's portrait of fashion designer Jean-Charles Worth, c.1925 and Noire et Blanche, 1926

Chris Verene, Holly Hollywood (After Marilyn), 1994. C-Print, printed 2010 20 x 24”, edition 2/6. Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery. Inspired by Marilyn Monroe pinup photographs, c. 1955

Lyle Ashton Harris, Billie #9, 2002. Unique Polaroid, printed 2002, 24 x 20 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery. Inspired by several source photographs of Billie Holiday

Chase Koopersmith, Hush Hush, 2010. Unique photo transfer on wood, printed 2010, 22 1/2 x 15 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery. Inspired by Joe Rosenthal, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, February 1945

Jordan Doner, Auto Dali, 2006. C-Print, printed 2010, 72 x 48, edition 1/4. Courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery. Inspired by Philippe Halsman, In Voluptas Mors, 1951 (Portrait of Salvador Dali)